HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University received a $2 million grant to combat the opioid epidemic on Friday.

What You Need To Know

  • NKU receives $2 million grant to fight opioids

  • University has a special program called Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program

  • Trains people who work with adults and youth impacted by opioids

  • U.S Department of Health and Human Services provided the grant

“One of the things that we know is the average time between someone starts misusing drugs and they are able to go into remission or recovery is about 20 years when you’re talking about opioids,” said Valerie Hardcastle, executive director at Northern Kentucky University's Institute for Health Innovation.

Hardcastle said it’s a slow process to recovery.

“We are now seeing second generation impacts of the original boom that we saw in substance use disorder,” Hardcastle said.

For several months now, her team has been working on creating a program at the university.

It’s called the Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program. It’s a specialized degree track designed to increase the number of paraprofessionals who support children, adolescents, and transitional age youth with parents who may have misused drugs.

“This program trains people to work with families and youth who’ve been impacted by substance use disorder. They may not have substance use disorder, but their loved ones do,” Hardcastle said. 

Most recently, Hardcastle said overdose rates are much higher in Northern Kentucky counties than the national average. She said overdose rates in these counties have nearly doubled throughout the Pandemic.

“We are now finding that it’s generational,” Hardcastle said.

By next spring, Hardcastle plans to launch the program starting at 30 students, hoping this will be the beginning to have resources ready for the second generation of people affected by opioid misuse.

U.S Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant to the university.