Rural Opioid Response Program Aims to Reduce Deaths

Deaths from certain kinds of opioids are higher in rural communities than in urban ones, and now there are more federally-backed programs, tools and funding sources to help rural communities respond to the crisis.

The rates of overdose deaths from natural opioids such as morphine and codeine and semi-synthetic opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as the illegal drug heroin are 4.9 percent in rural areas, compared with 4.3 percent in urban counties, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

That may be driven in part by the nature of jobs in rural communities, where opioid prescriptions to treat injuries from manual labor jobs increase the risk of addition and abuse, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) is a multi-year initiative that targets prevention and treatment for opioid addiction. It includes funds to plan and implement local programs, as well as support for medication-assisted treatment, technical assistance and administrative support.

In the past two years, some $157 million in support has already been spent in more than 1,100 rural counties served by the program, according to the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Eighty consortia in rural counties received grant awards of $1 million to implement plans to combat opioid abuse and deaths.

Hall Booth Smith’s Opioid Task Force team can help municipal leaders, health care officials and other community advocates navigate programs and funding sources such as these. To learn more, please contact us here.