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Opioid Misuse in Rural America

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. At 197 people each day, this is more than the number of lives lost in car accidents or gun-related homicides. An overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involved an opioid.

In October 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas. In addition, a December 2017 survey by the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation found that as many as 74 percent of farmers have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis.

Under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump, USDA is approaching the opioid crisis with a dedicated urgency. The opioid epidemic is devastating to its victims and their families. It has a compounding ripple effect throughout communities, affecting quality of life, economic opportunity, and rural prosperity. No corner of our country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, but the impact of this issue on small towns and rural places has been particularly significant.

USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities on a number of fronts:

  • Through program resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery opportunities for those in need. See the many ways your community can partner with USDA (PDF, 528 KB) to meet immediate needs in this fight.
  • Through program resources to help rural communities address many of the deeper, systemic, and long-term issues making these places vulnerable to the opioid crisis in the first place. Our infographic illustrates (PDF, 4.8 MB) how USDA can help rural communities respond to the opioid epidemic by addressing some of the root causes.
  • Through the creation of essential tools for rural leaders to use to understand the impact and cause(s) of the crisis in their community; and tools to understand what federal resources are available to help support grassroots strategies to address this crisis.
Number and age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths by state, US 2016

Community Toolbox

  • An interactive data tool that empowers community leaders to assess the causes and impact of opioid misuse in their community.
    Use the Tool
  • A listing of Federal programs that can be used to build resilient communities and address opioid misuse in rural communities.
    Download the Guide (PDF, 1.7 MB)

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Opportunities Outside of USDA Now

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Call For Reviewers

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) relies on grant reviewers to select the best programs from competitive groups of applicants. Over the coming months, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be competing a number of programs, including the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning, and will need more reviewers than usual, particularly those with expertise in rural and mental/behavioral health. Reviews are typically held remotely over a period of a few days and reviewers who participate and complete their assigned duties will receive an honorarium. Learn more and register to become a potential reviewer. (Registration is easy and does not commit you to serving as a reviewer.)

First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (FR-CARA) Grants

SAMHSA is accepting applications for First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (FR-CARA) Grants. Recipients will train and provide resources to first responders and members of other key community sectors at the state, tribal, and local governmental levels on carrying and administering a drug or device approved or cleared under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. Recipients will also establish processes; protocols; mechanisms for referral to appropriate treatment and recovery communities; and safety around fentanyl, carfentanil, and other dangerous licit and illicit drugs. (Deadline: May 6, 2019)

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP)

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has implemented a new Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP). Under the RCORP Grant Program, HRSA will make approximately 75 awards of up to $1 million each to networks and/or consortia to enhance substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder, and service delivery in high-risk rural communities. All domestic public and private entities, nonprofit and for-profit, are eligible to apply and all services must be provided in HRSA-designated rural areas. To see if your community is in an eligible HRSA rural area, visit the Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer. For more information, a webinar will be hosted for applicants on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 from 11:30-1 PM, EST. Please note a recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. For the dial-in and playback information for the webinar, please reference page ii in the NOFO. (Deadline: May 6, 2019)

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Policy & Additional Information




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