White House Announces Action Guide to Combat Rural Drug Addictions

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Hoosier AG Today on 2/2/2020 by NAFB News Service

The Trump Administration Friday released a new tool to assist rural community leaders in building an effective local response to drug addiction.

The Rural Community Action Guide is another tool from the administration to help local leaders address drug addiction in their community.

Anne Hazlett, Senior Adviser for Rural Affairs in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and native Hoosier, says the document offers guidelines for rural communities to follow.

“The action guide is one of several tools that we have created specifically for rural leaders that are facing drug addiction in their communities. The guide covers 15 different topics and it includes background information about each of those topics, recommended action steps, and then some promising practices for things that are working on the ground in communities that are tied to each of those issues.”

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, along with rural stakeholders, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, developed the guide.

Hazlett says this will help rural communities combat drug addiction through several ways, including addressing the lack of healthcare in rural communities.

“One of the things that a local leader might be thinking about doing is using telemedicine to get greater access to that care. So, the Rural Broadband Association wrote a section about how to deploy telemedicine in your community. And so, the guide would give some background on that issue, then some specific action steps that they would move to if they were looking to expand telemedicine, for example, in their county or in their region.”

Hazlett says research shows the need to address drug addiction in rural America.

“This is a crisis that certainly knows no geographic or economic boundaries. But, we know that the impact is great in rural areas. Farm Bureau and Farmers Union did a survey back in 2017 that said nearly 50 percent of rural adults and 74 percent of farmers have been directly impacted by opioid addiction, in particular. There was a survey in January that just came out this year in the Journal of American Medical Association that had interviewed I think 2,700 people living in rural areas, and they found that drugs are no of equal concern to people living in small towns as the economy in that area.”

Hazlett says a series of roundtable events are being planned in states especially impacted by drug addiction, starting in Missouri on February 19. More details will follow in the coming weeks. She says there are other tools and efforts to help.

“So, in addition to the action guide, we built a community assessment tool that includes county level data to help a rural leader better understand the scope of the problem in their community and in their region. And in addition to that data tool, we have built a federal rural funding guide, and this is meant to give that local leader a comprehensive view of all the federal funds that are out there and available to help build a local response that’s going to work in that community.”

All the resources for rural leaders are available online at www.usda.gov/topics/opioids.