Kentucky Access to Recovery: What we learned in Eastern Kentucky.

Aubrey Jones, Jayme Walters, Aaron Brown, Dorothy Wallis, Maddie Burnell

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


In 2019, the Kentucky Access to Recovery program was developed by Fahe. The impetus for this program was to address the needs of individuals recovering from opioid use disorder in Kentucky. This is done by providing vouchers to individuals to obtain basic necessities or services to aid in one’s recovery. With three dedicated sites, the KATR program serves individuals at two urban sites and one rural site. The rural site is located in Letcher county, Kentucky. Rural programs are faced with additional challenges that urban programs typically do not experience such as transportation issues, available resources, and quality internet services.
The purpose of this evaluation was to 1) document the economic and social impacts of community level addiction investments in the community, and 2) deepen the understanding of how social relationships and organizations contribute to successful community development in rural communities. A mixed methodology was used to evaluate outcomes using a variety of sources.

Quantitative outcomes
Overall, 67.9% of the KATR service recipients in this sample completed a program whereas 32.1% dropped out for various reasons. Basic needs (80.5%), transportation (49.0%), and vocational needs (47.0%) were the most common types of assistance that funds were allocated for. Despite the very small sample of KATR service recipients with data at both enrollment and follow-up, several outcomes showed significant improvement. Service recipients were more likely to report being employed part- or full-time at follow-up, and quality of life satisfaction also showed improvement. Improvements were also observed for coping life functioning,
physical health, psychological health, risk-taking, meaningful activities, social support, barriers, and unmet service needs. No significant improvements were observed for recovery participation, recovery experience, or housing safety.

Qualitative outcomes
Interviews were conducted with KATR service users, program coordinators, and vendors from August to October 2020. The findings are organized into themes that address the main goals of the study. Overall, the interviews indicated that service users had a positive experience with KATR, and the program provided support in various aspects of their lives. Vendors and coordinators report that while the individual benefits are apparent, the community has also benefited from KATR programming through positive economic and social impacts.

Discussion and Recommendations
Kentucky has the 12th highest rate of opioid overdoses in the U.S., and Letcher County specifically has 60% more overdose related deaths compared to the national average; it is vital that recovery programs provide support that not only improves the lives of the individual but also enhances the community. Completion rates were high with over two-thirds in this sample completing the KATR program successfully, and there were clear improvements in several meaningful domains observed among those service recipients with follow-up data. Outcomes related to quality-of-life satisfaction, coping, risk-taking, meaningful activities, physical and
psychological health, and social support showed the largest improvements for KATR service recipients. Not only does KATR meet the basic needs of participants, but the program addresses gaps in the community as well. Without the KATR program, participants agree that complex systematic problems would persistently worsen. The program is a prime example of how an agency can overcome community-level barriers to assist individuals on the path to recovery all while meeting community needs and fostering change within the community. Recommendations for the program and community are provided in further detail in the full evaluation.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2021


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