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OPIOID ADDICTION IN RURAL AREAS

ROLE OF THE ENVIRONMENT IN ADDICTION AND RECOVERY

While only 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, a disproportionate number of rural communities are struggling with drug abuse and opioid abuse in particular. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are more vulnerable to prescription painkiller abuse and overdoses, and the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in rural counties is 45 percent higher than in urban counties.

Part of the explanation for this phenomenon is high unemployment in rural areas, along with a greater incidence of the types of injuries that result in prescriptions for opioid medications. The opioid crisis is taxing an already lacking health care system. Not only are hospitals closing down in rural towns across the country, but they are frequently ill-equipped to handle the needs of their communities, particularly when it comes to mental health care and substance abuse treatment. In 55 percent of all American counties, most of which are rural, there are no psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers.

According to a 2016 study by the Maine Rural Health Research Center, rural opioid users are more likely than urban opioid users to be age 19 or younger, low-income, unmarried, uninsured, and have less than a high school education. These factors may limit people’s ability to seek treatment and recover. Other impediments to treatment, like isolation, lack of public transportation, and a shortage of qualified medical professionals, make accessing treatment for opioid-use disorder even more difficult.

States have begun limiting the circumstances and amounts in which doctors can prescribe opioids, but the damage has already been done. People who begin taking painkillers for legitimate reasons are still at risk for becoming addicted, and when their legal supply dries up, they turn to illicit means of self-medication. Sometimes this means buying opioids off the streets, which can be contaminated or laced with a variety of toxic substances, and sometimes it means turning to heroin.

Rural populations are usually older and more likely to be prescribed opioids for chronic pain, injuries, or after surgery. These areas also tend to have more physically demanding or dangerous work, such as mining or farming, making it even more likely for their citizens to seek pain relief by whatever means.

The distance from addiction treatment is a large part of the problem when it comes to seeking help, but there are programs that provide funds for rural areas to have access to telehealth services, or the use of electronic communication to facilitate health care. Patients are able to speak to medical professionals by telephone or video conference and don’t have to worry about transportation.

At Asana Recovery, we understand the barriers you may face to receiving treatment, and our admissions counselors are here to help however possible. We have a detox program to assist you in getting the drugs out of your system as comfortably and safely as possible. We also offer both residential and outpatient programs that provide education, counseling, and therapy. Our consulting physicians specialize in addiction and behavioral health, and our counselors and therapists are certified and licensed. Asana Recovery is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, which means you’ll receive the best care possible. Call us at (949) 438-4504 to find out how we can help.

 

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