HomeAbout REACHRural Drug Addiction Research (RDAR) Center

Rural Drug Addiction Research (RDAR) Center


About the RDAR Center

Until recently, a majority of the information about addiction has come from large urban areas. However, drug addiction affects every region in the United States. Until 2018, Nebraska has experienced low rates of drug overdoses compared to other states. This rate has since increased 48 percent, adding Nebraska to the national crisis and drawing attention to rural drug use.

Today, we recognize that substance use and the challenges that come from misuse and addiction affect every region in the United States. Recent changes in our region in the rate of overdoses, the types of substances people are entering treatment for, and the changing health concerns around HIV and hepatitis C require that we pay more attention to substance use in rural areas of the US. Our mission is to understand the manifold experiences of people who use drugs in the rural Midwest.

The Center’s core 5-year study is made possible by the National Institute of General Medical Science’s Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence program. The RDAR center brings together researchers who focus on brain chemistry, social patterns of drug use, epigenetic understandings of biology and experience, and others. Working together, our goal is to understand the full range of the effects of substance use from the synapse through society.

Our hope is that this research will help rural communities in our region understand regional substance use experiences and inform outreach, prevention, and treatment efforts.


The Longitudinal Networks Core (LNC) Facility

The Longitudinal Networks Core is the research arm of the RDAR Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and serves as a resource to researchers working with hidden or hard-to-reach populations. This core facility houses nationally known experts in statistics, survey methodology, population sampling, and survey technology development. The long-term goal of LNC is to enhance the fields of rural substance abuse research and mobile health interventions by offering longitudinal human subjects cohort study capacity to Center research projects and researchers throughout the Central Plains.

RDAR research focuses on the neuroscience of addiction, cognitive implications of chronic drug use, the relationship between rural drug use and violence exposure, and simulation of drug-related disease epidemiology. To support these research goals, the LNC will recruit and retain a cohort of rural individuals addicted to drugs (the Rural Health Cohort) from which RDAR projects will regularly collect data.

This effort lays the groundwork for long-term Center infrastructure that allows RDAR researchers to lead efforts to address specific challenges raised by drug addiction in rural settings and develop appropriate interventions for those settings.

Researchers interested in LNC support for their own research can reach out to LNC Directors Bilal Khan and Kim Tyler.


The Rural Drug Cohort (RHC) Study

The Rural Health Cohort is a five-year longitudinal study with 600 people who use drugs in the Great Plains. The RHC members will be enrolled through peer-based recruitment, starting with interviews with people who are introduced to the project by community partners who work with people who use drugs in the local area. From these initial interviews, peer-based recruitment will help grow and maintain the cohort over the five-year period of the study.

One unique aspect of the RHC, is the periodic use of mobile technology developed by the LNC to collect “responsive” Ecological Momentary Assessment data (via the Open Dynamic Interaction Network cellphone software). ODIN provides a way to ask participants questions during the course of their day about their attitudes, and emotions, activities, locations, and relationships. With the help of our study participants, we will enhance our long-term understanding of substance use in the rural Midwest.

For questions about RHC data, access, and project planning contact Patrick Habecker or visit our website.


The Seminar Series

The RDAR Center’s Seminar Series hosts a variety of great speakers who are experts in their field. You can join us in person, or virtually with our hosted Zoom meetings. For more information about past and upcoming speakers visit rdar.unl.edu.

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