Taking Positive Steps to Address Rural Opioid Abuse

Jerry Ashworth
February 5, 2020 at 07:47:42 ET
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One of the key goals of this presidential administration is the tackle the nation’s abuse of opioids. According to recent statistics from the Department of Justice (DOJ), more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses.

Even worse, the opioid addiction problem is not simply an urban issue. In October 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas. 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.

Because of this, we support a new program overseen and co-funded by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, State Justice Institute and the CDC called the Rural Response to the Opioid Epidemic Initiative. This initiative will integrate public safety and public health approaches and blend interagency expertise and funding to address the epidemic. It will enable rural areas to implement evidence-based solutions and promising practices in a way that uses the unique assets of their communities. Its goal is to reduce opioid overdose deaths in high-risk rural communities, and to support and promote a shared understanding of the patterns and characteristics of local opioid use.

The sponsoring agencies recently provided $14.8 million in funding to 21 rural communities to develop tailored and innovative responses to gaps in prevention, treatment and/or recovery services for individuals involved in the criminal justice system. Each community will receive up to $750,000 to establish or enhance public safety, public health and behavioral health collaborations. Sites may also leverage funding to expand peer recovery and recovery support services.

The following lists the 21 recipients: Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (Ark.); County of Rio Arriba (N.M.); Ellenville Regional Hospital (N.Y.); Franklin County Sheriff’s Department (Mass.); Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services (Wash.); Marcum and Wallace Hospital (Kent.); Marshall University Research Corporation (W.V.); Memorial Regional Health (Colo.); Mohave Substance Treatment Education and Prevention Partnership (Ariz.); Northern Kentucky University (Ky.); Northumberland County (Pa.); Porter-Starke Services Inc. (Ind.); Portsmouth City Health Department (Ohio); Prisma Health–Upstate (S.C.); Project Lazarus (N.C.); Reno County Health Department (Kan.); SMA Healthcare, Inc. (Fla.); St. Mary's Regional Health Center (Minn.); Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency (Tenn.); WestCare Tennessee, Inc. (Tenn.); and Whitley County Health Department (Ky.).

The Rural Responses Initiative is the latest demonstration project supported by BJA’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP), which supports effective local, state and tribal responses to the opioid epidemic. Hopefully, this initiative will provide much-needed relief for these rural areas to better address this concerning issue.

Join us for our following Federal Grants Forums:
Federal Grants Forum: Portland, OR | May 13 – 15, 2020
Federal Grants Forum: Chicago, IL | August 12 – 14, 2020
Federal Grants Forum: Denver, CO | October 7 – 9, 2020

Learn more at http://grants.thompson.com/conferences.aspx.