In 2017, University of Nebraska student projects attempted to address the Rural Opioid Crisis in the U.S.

The goal of this class was to disseminate and translate research updates from the field faster and more efficiently to community partners and organizations committed to addressing the needs of minority and underserved populations throughout the Central Plains who are currently battling high rates of opiate addiction and overdose.

Data on rural drug use indicates record overdose rates, unexpected HIV outbreaks, and a lack of treatment facilities makes Nebraska an at risk state. Research recommends that community members in Nebraska immediately address three obvious problems.

  1. Legalizing Syringe Exchange
  2. Opiate Substitution Treatment Awareness
  3. Naloxone Awareness & Promotion

Design Thinking

Professor Colleen Syron, MHDI Faculty Affiliate, asked design students in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts to create a public service campaign to address the REACH Lab’s scientific call to action. After a series of Design Thinking workshops (ideal for human-centric concepting and fast prototype/testing), students were broken into four teams.

Students conducted ethnographic research with nurses, police officers, policy makers, pharmacists and recovering drug addicts, not to mention, parents, employers, fellow students and family members. Each group was given a $50 budget and 4 weeks. Executions included logos, posters, flyers, commercials, petitions, documentaries, Facebook support pages, and websites.

The work was presented to the public in the Spring of 2017. If you like the work, it is for free distribution. We have signed photo, video, and audio releases from all participants. You may download our templates, modify phone numbers, web URLs, and if they can at all be helpful to rural populations to get the word out, we welcome its distribution. If you need help modifying files, we can help you there too.

Below find the thoughts, words, and strategies behind each group.

Group 1: Opioid Addiction Awareness Campaign

Group 2: Opiate Substitution Treatment

Group 3: Needle/Syringe Exchange

Group 4: Nalaxone Overdose Kit

The Vermont AIGA put out a national call for aid in addressing the crisis across the state.
Student work was printed, shipped, and displayed at the Opioid Epidemic: Design for Good Poster Show at the Karma Birdhouse Gallery on May 5th, 2017 with work from across the country.