Mythbuster: Adam Strong

Pursuing a medical degree to help people understand the dangers of prescription drug addiction related to chronic conditions.

Adam Strong, 21, is a student at the University of Kentucky.  He is deeply interested in the medical field and is working towards his B.A. in medical laboratory science. 

He is pursing a medical profession to provide a higher quality of healthcare to the people of Southeastern Kentucky, his hometown. He is focusing specifically on a multidisciplinary approach when treating those with chronic pain and the use of opiod medications. "Although the use of opioid medications is effective for treatment in the short term," says Adam, "long term use can cause increased drug tolerance, hyperalgesia (increased pain sensitivity), and addiction. The first two of the above actually helps perpetuate addiction."

Using his education, he hopes to show youth and adults dealing with chronic pain the dangers of increased drug tolerance, and how hyperalgesia can warrant an increased dosage for treatment. "In the long term, this can increase the risks of addiction and drug abuse," says Adam. 

Adam recognizes that drug abuse is a real problem communities are facing in many forms, including through prescriptions, and not always on purpose. He says, "drug abuse not only only negatively impacts the individual but their families as well. I want to increase the quality of life for my patients and through them, their families and the region."

Raised by his father in an Appalachian community in Jackson, Adam attended his local community college, working as a security guard at a local coal mine at a time when the coal industry was in decline.  Soon he found himself unemployed but was able to gain entry into the YouthBuild Hazard program where he took part in community service and outreach. 

Adam is a member of the National Council of Young Leaders, a diverse body of young leaders from across the US who advise policymakers and funders on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities.  On the Council, Adam speaks passionately about prescription drugs abuse in rural areas and has also spoken one-on-one with youth from a local drug court about their experiences and the impact of drug abuse in their lives.

At University of Kentucky, Adam continues his leadership activities alongside his studies, serving a student representative on his college’s presidential search committee, and as Vice President of the student government. He is also a full-time AmeriCorps member, serving YouthBuild Hazard as a teacher’s aide.