The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. In 2016, nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. At 174 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. While no corner of the country has gone untouched by this issue, the opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard.
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. A November 2017 report from the USDA Economic Research Service revealed rising mortality rates among working age adults living in rural America, stemming in part from prescription drug and heroin misuse. Lastly, 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.
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. Rates of drug-related deaths in rural areas has surpassed those in urban centers. We are partnering with rural leaders to combat this crisis.
Through leadership provided by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, USDA is investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery capacity at the rural community level through several core programs. Three Rural Development programs offering loans and grants are currently available to assist communities in need.
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“The opioid epidemic is a pivotal challenge for many rural places. More than a health concern, the opioid crisis is an issue of rural prosperity and will take the commitment, collaboration and creativity of a wide range of partners to address."
- Anne Hazlett, USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development
What’s working in your town?
Tell us what actions your rural community is taking in prevention, treatment and recovery.
Under the leadership of Secretary Perdue and Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, USDA is investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery capacity at the community level through several core programs. Beyond program investment, Secretary Perdue has created a Rural Development Innovation Center. The Innovation Center is working collaboratively to promote strategic partnerships and local capacity building, identify and share best practices, evaluate data, and streamline regulations to remove barriers to rural prosperity, including access to mental and behavioral health care.
In this activity, Rural Development seeks to support local communities in building resiliency through capacity and infrastructure development, such as transitional housing to assist individuals recovering from addiction.
New USDA Funding Available to Support Projects that Address Opioid Misuse in Rural Communities
On April 4, 2018, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to address opioid misuse in rural communities. In addition to the resources shown here, our outreach webinar held on April 23, 2018 provides an overview of how Rural Development is prioritizing investments.
- Community Facilities Program Grants: USDA reserved $5 million in grants for innovative projects that address the opioid crisis in rural America. Rural communities, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized tribes can apply for up to $150,000 in grants for innovative projects, such as mobile treatment clinics. The grants can be used to fund up to 75 percent of a project’s cost. Application Deadline: June 4, 2018
- Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants: USDA will give priority to applications for projects to provide opioid misuse prevention, treatment, or recovery services. Congress has set aside $20 million for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants specifically for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery projects. Eligible proposals can receive 10 priority points. Application Deadline: June 4, 2018
- Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program (RHSE): These grants are for projects that develop or implement individual and family health education programs to help rural communities address significant health issues. Education programs specializing in prevention and reduction of opioid abuse in rural communities are given priority for funding. For information on how to apply, visit the RHSE 2018 Grant Applicant Webinar presentation (PDF, 1.4 MB). Application Deadline: May 24, 2018
North Carolina State University, North Carolina
Prevention is a key element in ultimately ending the opioid crisis in the United States. North Carolina State University (NCSU) is stepping up to the challenge to prevent opioid misuse in rural communities in North Carolina. Through a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the NC 4-H Empowering Youth and Families Program together with the NC Office of Rural Health, are working to empower families and communities in Lenior, Montgomery, and Yancey counties. Families with youth ages 10-14 meet weekly to participate in educational sessions that provide age-appropriate research- and evidence-based training in the art of family building and the impact of opioid misuse. They are given the opportunity to practice their new skills and behaviors. The families will also participate in a Family Weekend Confluence bringing youth and their caregivers together for a weekend of action planning and leadership development. Youth and families will be charged with delivering a community opiate prevention campaign within their respective counties. NCSU anticipates reaching 900 individuals through this comprehensive effort.
For more information contact:
North Carolina 4-H
NC State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
520 Brickhaven Drive
Raleigh, NC 27695-7606
Campus Box 7655
Connections Withdrawal Management Center, Harrington, Delaware
A partnership between USDA and a rural health organization has resulted in an essential facility that provides a regional response to Delaware’s opioid crisis.
Connections leased a vacant space in Harrington, Delaware’s town center in 2015 and transformed it into a medically monitored, clinically managed withdrawal management/induction center facility for patients withdrawing from opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines and other similar substances. Connections takes a chronic-care approach to treating substance use disorder, with an emphasis on using the ‘gold standard’ approach to opioid use disorder—medication assisted treatment (MAT). The facility provides on-demand access to MAT, intensive outpatient therapy, linkages and warm handoffs to other treatment resources, and post-withdrawal support services. A USDA Community Facilities loan in 2016 helped Connections cut its monthly expenses in half to purchase the space and expand service offerings.
At first, nearby residents were concerned about public safety issues that might come with having a treatment facility in their neighborhood. But, as the second largest employer in Harrington, the center is a vital part of the community. Local police utilize Connections’ treatment-first approach, saving the department costly trips to facilities outside the area. Furthermore, Connections will add primary care and dental services for local residents when renovations are complete, cementing its place as a key health care provider in the Harrington community and Delaware’s two southern counties, where health care resources are scarce.
Horizon Health Care, Inc., South Dakota
Outside of prescriptions, South Dakota’s Opioid Abuse Advisory Committee has identified that poverty, limited access to mental health services, and inadequate insurance coverage are associated with opioid addiction. In a state where over 40 percent of the population lives in rural areas where these risk factors are prevalent, health centers are faced with the challenge of providing comprehensive care in these high-need communities. With a rural network that covers over one-third of the state and a Sliding Fee Program that ensures affordability, Horizon Health Care, Inc. is uniquely positioned to prevent and treat rural opioid misuse.
For nearly 40 years, Horizon’s growing number of health centers have been delivering medical, dental, and mental health care services to people living in rural, medically underserved communities. At the heart of Horizon’s robust network is its telemedicine program, which originally facilitated psychiatric care. In response to the rising demand for mental health specialists, Horizon has been adding advanced practice providers to the network.
Within the last two decades, Horizon has relied on USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants.
Policy & Additional Information
- Council of Economic Advisers Report: the Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis
- Factsheet: President Donald J. Trump is Taking Action on Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
- Factsheet: The Crisis Next Door: President Donald J. Trump is Confronting an Opioid Crisis More Severe Than Original Expectations
- President Donald J. Trump is Combatting the Opioid Crisis
- Remarks by First Lady Melania Trump on Combatting Drug Demand and the Opioid Crisis
- Remarks by President Trump on Combatting Drug Demand and the Opioid Crisis
- Statement by the Press Secretary on the Final Report of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis
- VIDEO: The Crisis Next Door, Stories of the Opioid Epidemic
United States Department of Agriculture
- Ag Outlook 2018 Opioid Panel
- Economic Research Service
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Rural Development
United States Department of Health and Human Services
- About the U.S. Opioid Epidemic
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Opioid Overdose Information
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Help, Resources and Information National Opioids Crisis
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
United States Department of Justice
- Heroin and Opioid Awareness
- News Release: Department of Justice Awards Nearly $59 Million to Combat Opioid Epidemic, Fund Drug Courts
- News Release: U.S. Attorney's Office and DEA Launch Opioid Abuse Prevention Public Awareness Campaign
- Opioid Facts
- Addiction Policy Forum (APF)
- Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
- Farm Town Strong
- Indiana University
- NACo and NLC Opioid Hub
- National Association of Counties
- National Rural Health Association
- Operation UNITE
- Rural Heath Information Hub
- State Targeted Response Technical Assistance
In The News
- Stateline by Pew Charitable Trusts: In Rural Areas Hard Hit by Opioids a New Source of Hope
- Assistant to the Secretary Anne Hazlett Statement on Prescribed to Death Opioid Memorial
- USDA Prioritizes Investments to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America
- FarmTownStrong Website Provides Help in Battling Rural Opioid Addiction
- ‘This is an Issue of Rural Prosperity’: Nevada Roundtable Spotlights Opioid Epidemic in Small Communities
- RFD-TV’s Rural America Live: The Rural Opioid Crisis
- Special Opioid Issue Roundtables Being Set up in Rural Areas
- Actuality: Wide Range Impacts of Rural Opioid Misuse
- Johnson, Duvall, Hazlett: End Stigma of Opioid Abuse
- Anne Hazlett Guest Blog: Standing Tall Together Against Opioid Misuse
- USDA Launches Webpage Highlighting Resources to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis
- OpEd: Rural America and the Opioid Epidemic: A Call for Partnership
- AFBF Annual Convention Panel Discussion
- IndyStar: Agricultural leaders search for solutions to rural opioid crisis, problem that has come on 'so fast'
- Hoosier Ag Today: USDA Rural Development Offers Opioid Epidemic Resources
- AgriPulse Article: USDA doing its part in opioid crisis, Hazlett says