The increasing number of drug overdose deaths in the United States has hit rural areas particularly hard. Between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths increased 325 percent in rural counties, and, in 2015, they surpassed the rate in urban areas. Additionally, nonfatal prescription opioid overdoses are concentrated in states with large rural populations. Helping to drive this trend in rural areas are high opioid prescription rates and challenges accessing medication-assisted treatment, the gold standard for treating opioid use disorder.
This fact sheet from The Pew Charitable Trusts describes some of the challenges rural communities face in providing access to evidence-based treatment and strategies used by federal and state agencies to enhance treatment capacity, including how one rural community in Scott County, Indiana responded to the opioid epidemic by addressing the specific needs of its residents.