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ACT for Rural America

Rural LISC, with support from national, regional and local partners, is leveraging its national Rural, Health and Safety Initiatives to address the growing public health crisis of drug abuse through its ACT for Rural America (Addiction Care and Treatment) Initiative – a community-driven approach to formulate solutions that engage rural communities.

Nonmedical prescription opioid misuse is a fast growing public health problem, and the primary cause of unintentional deaths, nationwide. Public health officials call the current substance abuse problem the “worst drug crisis in American history,” killing more than 33,000 people in 2015.

In rural America, substance abuse is cross-generational, affecting lower income families disproportionately, those who struggle with chronic economic and emotional stress. By and large, however, the greatest percentage of rural substance abusers include youth, young adults, unemployed adults, the homeless and those with the dual diagnosis of mental health and addiction.  Substance abuse treatment facilities tend to be located in urban areas – 82 percent of all rural residents live in a county without a treatment facility.

Research shows that through the availability of substance abuse treatment facilities in local or regional rural communities, coupled with community and police engagement and education, contextualized successful short- and long-term solutions can be realized.  Rural LISC is working to make this a reality with the ACT for Rural America Initiative.