Drug Crisis Hitting Rural America Hard

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Opioid Epidemic Impact – Drug Crisis Hitting Rural America Hard

A view of the opioid epidemic by state reveals a surprising fact about the drug crisis; the rural areas are some of the hardest hit areas in the country. A surprise even to the farming and ranch families with only 31 percent of a surveyed group of rural families being aware that they are being hit harder by the opioid epidemic than people in urban areas.

To better understand what is happening in rural areas in relation to the opioid crisis, the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation banded together to ask farming and ranch families question about the opioid epidemic.

What is the Opioid Crisis?

To answer the question “what is the opioid crisis?” one needs to understand the scope of opiate abuse. The opioid crisis refers to the millions of people being affected by the abuse of opioid pain relievers and heroin. Prescriptions opioids are arguably too easily available and the risks are not properly explained to people using it. Doctors are also prescribing opioids in cases where it isn’t necessary. Opioids are highly addictive and millions of people are becoming physically and mentally addicted to the substance.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 591,000 Americans were abusing heroin and a further 2 million people were abusing perception opioids in 2015. The drug crisis also claimed 20,101 lives due to prescription opioid abuse and another 12,990 to heroin overdose in the same year.

Furthermore, as opioids are become harder to obtain, more people are turning to illegal heroin bought on the streets to get their fix, spurring a surge in heroin abuse.

Rural Survey on the Drug Crisis

America’s farming and ranch families answered several questions in a survey conducted by the NFU and the AFBF. The results of the survey show an insight into what the drug crisis is like in the rural areas of the United States – the hardest hit sector.

The survey found the following results:

  • As many as 74 percent of farm workers and farmers have seen the impact of the drug crisis with either someone they know or themselves being affected by opioid abuse or going through recovery.
  • Only 50 percent of respondents understand that addiction is not a result of poor decisions or willpower, but rather a mental disease, which can lead to stigma.
  • Both farm workers (76 percent) and farmers (77 percent) say that it is very easy for them to get their hands on prescription painkillers without even having a prescription.
  • An overwhelming 75 percent of respondents understand how opioid abuse and dependence can happen by accident or unintentionally when using opioids that are deemed as safe-to-use.
  • 34 percent of farmers and ranchers think that it would be easy to find professional help for an addiction within their community. However, only 38 percent believe that the treatment would be covered by insurance, affordable or be effective.
  • The majority (68 percent) of respondents in the survey thought that increasing public awareness through education and making more resources available would help to reduce some of the shame and stigma that surrounds opioid addiction at present. A further 57 percent believe that that is how to solve the opioid epidemic by state.
  • 31 percent of people who responded to the survey say that there is stigma linked to opioid addiction within their community and 32 percent of people believe that the stigma is a major contributing factor to the current opioid epidemic.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.