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Opioid Misuse 
in Rural America


In 2020, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased 31% compared to 2019. Adults aged 35-44 experienced the highest rates of drug overdose deaths while young people aged 15-24 experienced the greatest percentage increase in deaths. We must continue our efforts in all aspects of our fight against substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic.

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Rural Community Toolbox

The Rural Community Toolbox has information on Federal Funding to help build strong healthy rural communities. It also houses the updated Community Assessment tool with data on broadband access, location information for mental health and substance use facilities, a prosperity index and much more. Please contact Kellie Kubena ( if you have questions about this resource.

  • 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)
  • The Rural Community Action Guide includes background information, recommended action steps from a diversity of stakeholders, and promising practices for a wide range of issues related to drug addiction in rural America.

    Download the Rural Community Action Guide (PDF, 4.2 MB)

    The practices described in this supplement have been built and launched by State and local leaders across the country. These activities were identified as promising practices to showcase because they are something that another community can replicate or use to inspire their own action.
    Download the Rural Community Action Guide: Promising Practices (PDF, 1.1 MB)

As of March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that drug overdose death rates continue to rise in both rural and urban areas. In five states, California, Connecticut, North Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia, the rate of drug-overdose deaths in rural counties were higher than those in urban counties. 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.

At a time when overdose deaths, driven primarily by illicitly manufactured synthetic drugs, have reached a record high, the Biden-Harris Administration took action through its first-year drug policy priorities to significantly expand access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl. 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.

Policy Information