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Successful Strategies for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Rural Communities: Transportation

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2022
4 pages

This brief is part of a series highlighting partnership projects that are part of the Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic project; it discusses the partnerships of Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency.


This Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) document on harm reduction describes the Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic (RROE) project. The RROE project aims to serve residents with substance use disorder (SUD); it supports 21 rural sites across the United States in order to develop or enhance efforts to do the following tasks: strengthen epidemiologic surveillance and public health data infrastructure; implement effective community-level opioid overdose prevention activities; and establish or enhance public safety, public health, and behavioral health collaborations. The document notes that sites may also expand peer recovery and recovery support services that help people start and continue with recovery. Another project focus is to make more efficient use of limited resources. The two partnerships featured in this brief are Northern Kentucky University (NKU) and the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency (UCHRA). The focus of the document is Transportation; it addresses the challenge that members of rural communities face regarding access to reliable and effective methods of transportation, including long distances to access services, low ridership for fixed transit routes, among other issues. NKU’s service area covering Carroll and Owen Counties, in Kentucky, which has developed a service where all non-emergency 9-1-1 calls are routed to the public transit agency rather than emergency medical services (EMS). Similarly, UCHRA’s Substance Abuse Services (SAS) has a partnership with the Public Transportation department that employs a mobility manager exclusively for the community-members’ SAS department and local hospital needs. Lessons learned include: the importance of ensuring there is a transportation component of grants and funding programs for SUD; considering partnerships with existing agencies or services; and employing at least one person to focus on coordinating transportation needs.