LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has received a nearly $12 million federal grant to research challenges connected with rural drug abuse in the Midwest.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund a research initiative called the Rural Drug Addiction Center. Researchers will track 600 rural drug users in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

Nebraska has seen a drastic jump in its drug overdose rate in recent years. The issue is complicated by a trend among the state’s drug users who are often addicted to a combination of substances. It’s an understudied phenomenon that’s been seen in other Midwestern states.

The program’s leader, Kirk Dombrowski, says current drug addiction treatment focuses on brain chemistry, but understanding social patterns of abuse can lead to new treatments.