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Raffle reviews “Rx Appalachia: Stories of Treatment and Survival in Rural Kentucky”

Rebecca Harhai
April 2, 2021

Holly Raffle, professor at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, recently provided an invited review of, “Rx Appalachia: Stories of Treatment and Survival in Rural Kentucky,” for the Journal of Appalachian Studies. Lesly-Marie Buer’s book explores the impact of opioid use disorder on women in Kentucky’s Appalachian region.

“Rx Appalachia” examines the root causes of opioid use disorder through the eyes of a medical anthropologist and harm reductionist. “Buer has woven a series of impactful and personal narratives with anthropological theories and frameworks” to reject the idea that the opioid crisis reflects personal choices or moral failures, Raffle writes.

In the review, Raffle writes that Buer’s book answers questions about solving the opioid crisis. She notes the answer is clear, but not simple, because the opioid crisis is not simple. Raffle defines it as a “wicked problem,” a policy studies term for unique, complex challenges that defy easy descriptions and quick fixes.

“Buer pushes the reader to respect opioid use disorder as a wicked problem and recognize that there is not a singular solution, for wicked problems require complex solutions,” Raffle writes.

Raffle recommends the book to both academics and community leaders, particularly those interested in health practice and policy, as well as anyone interested in the complex societal structures behind addiction.

“’Rx Appalachia’ is a call to action for all of us to expand our consciousness of how political, social and physical environments impact opioid use disorder,” said Raffle. “What do we do after we read it? Well, that is up to us.”

Read the full review here.