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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.

Community Toolbox

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

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Number and age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths by state, US 2016
 
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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?

What’s working in your town?

Tell us what actions your rural community is taking in prevention, treatment and recovery.

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USDA is a strong partner to communities in addressing the opioid epidemic on two 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.

USDA Opioid Resource Map

See What's Working in Your State

Opportunities Outside of USDA Now:

  • Access & Mobility Partnership Grants: Federal Transport Administration (FTA) Access and Mobility Partnership Grants focus on transportation solutions to medical appointments and other non-emergency healthcare services. The grants will help improve options for people with limited transportation choices and bridge the gap between service providers in the transportation and health sectors. The program supports the work of the inter-agency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), which works to coordinate federal programs to improve access to jobs, schools, healthcare, and other opportunities. Federal Register Notice (PDF, 213 KB) (Deadline: November 13, 2018, 11:59pm EDT)
  • 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.)

Resources

Policy & Additional Information

White House

United States Department of Agriculture

United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Department of Justice

National Institutes of Health

Partners

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State Government Resources

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     Idaho Dept of Health and Welfare

     Illinois Dept. of Public Health Opioids Dashboard

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     Texas Medical Association

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