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New tool aimed at helping rural community leaders target opioid abuse

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Washington — The Office of National Drug Control Policy, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has published a guide intended to help rural communities address opioid misuse and other substance abuse by providing a centralized list of federal programs and resources.

The resource guide is part of the Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group’s effort to improve coordination among federal agencies and reduce potential overlap, according to an Oct. 30 press release from USDA. The guide features links to funding, training and direct service providers, as well as other information.

More than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid-related overdoses since 2000, the release states. Nearly 75 percent of farmers and farm workers say they have been directly affected by the crisis, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union. Additionally, more than 3 in 4 farmers report that it is easy to obtain “a large amount” of opioids or painkillers without a prescription in their communities.

Overall, the survey results indicate that 45 percent of adults in rural communities have been directly affected by the opioid epidemic.

“Many rural communities in America have been especially hard hit by the opioid crisis,” ONDCP Deputy Director Jim Carroll said in the release. “ONDCP and USDA partnered to create this guide to help them find the federal resources that can help them respond.”

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