Appalachia Opioid Remediation (AOR) is a project of Community Education Group, launched in 2022.

The Appalachian region is the epicenter of the first wave of the U.S. opioid epidemic, characterized by aggressive marketing and over-prescription of opioid medications beginning in the 1990s and resulting surges of overdose deaths. As the national epidemic evolved, pressure was applied to pharmaceutical companies to atone for some of the harms they caused, resulting in a series of financial settlements with states, local jurisdictions, and other entities across the country which will be paid out for approximately 18 years.

There is a unique urgency to combat the challenges posed by the syndemic of substance use, HIV, and viral hepatitis in Appalachia. Individuals, families, and communities are the casualties of the opioid overdose crisis, but opioid settlement money is awarded to government entities who are tasked with spending the dollars for “opioid remediation” purposes. In the coming years, jurisdictions across the region will make significant decisions about how to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, transparency and reporting requirements are not firmly spelled out in the litigation terms, and not all states have instituted strong guidelines for themselves.

The intention of AOR is to equip community members with resources and information about how the 13 states of Appalachia are managing and spending their settlement funds, so that governments and communities can work together to create long term change to lower rates of overdose death, HIV and viral hepatitis infection, and other harms associated with substance use. It is essential that the people of Appalachia have a voice in the decisions made about how to use these funds in their communities.

CEG’s broad goal is to ensure that opioid settlement money is spent on evidence-based interventions and supporting organizations doing the groundwork to reduce harms associated with the syndemic of HIV, viral hepatitis, and overdose. As opioid settlement dollars are discussed and spent, AOR is cataloging this information so that community members can decide for themselves if they approve of those choices and can advocate for more or less emphasis on those particular program areas for future years funding.

Sign Up for the AOR Listserve

For more context and the most up-to-date information, sign up for the AOR Listserve!