Addiction in Rural America: 5 Things You Need to Know

Addiction in Rural America

It must be stated that struggling with drugs and alcohol misuse or addiction can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, education or location. In fact, nearly every community today has been affected by addiction.

Yet, for many years rural America has represented an idealized lifestyle. Rural life was seen as simple, quiet and free from many problems afflicting urban areas such as crime and drug abuse. Unfortunately, that has changed.

  Rural Substance Abuse and Misuse

According to CDC studies, rural communities are not just experiencing an increase in substance abuse and misuse; rural towns are now surpassing urban areas for drug overdose deaths. The opioid epidemic has taken a toll on both urban and rural areas, but it’s been a surprise to most people to discover just how bad the drug problem is in small towns across the US. For example, the New York Times reported in 2019 on a Florida pharmacy that ordered 3,271 bottles of oxycodone a month for a town with a population of 2,831.

 Contributing Factors  

Why are our rural communities being hit so hard with increased rates of drug and alcohol addiction? There are many contributing factors that include:

  • Isolation

  • Unemployment

  • Health – lower quality of health, plus lack of access to quality healthcare such as mental health care

  • Lack of educational completion

  • Poverty

  • Stigma

 Impact of Addiction on Rural Areas 

As previously mentioned, rural communities are seeing a larger than ever number of deaths caused by drug overdoses. Even without the finality of death, addiction is more than just a health issue. Addiction and misuse impact academic performance, worker productivity and devastates families. It adds stress to already limited law enforcement teams, first responders, and social services. All of these things combined make it difficult for rural areas to sustain economic development or attract new financial opportunities.

 Challenges For Rural Communities 

One of the largest challenges for combating drug and alcohol misuse and addiction in rural America is stigma. Those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction continue to be blamed for their disease and this prevents them from seeking help. Addiction is still seen as a character defect or moral weakness, despite the support from science that confirms it’s much more complex than that.

Another challenge is the access to quality care. Addiction often co-exists with mental health issues that need to be addressed. For those in rural communities, it can be hard to find quality healthcare providers that can treat them. It may also be hard to find transportation to get there or the funds needed to pay for treatment.

 Recovery for Rural Communities 

Treating addiction and or misuse is critical for recovery.  Those struggling with drugs or alcohol abuse need the right tools for treatment and sobriety. Too often people put off seeking help because of an exhausting cycle of shame and hiding behaviors. The right treatment program helps break this by providing supportive leaders and peers.

At Stones River Recovery, we help those who suffer from long-term, crippling addiction and those who have just begun to be concerned about their own behavior. By helping these individuals find Christ as the central feature of their treatment, they find meaning that they never had or perhaps once had and lost. Those who are lost in drugs become found in Christ and that is the saving grace of our addiction treatment center.