Drug Addiction Treatment Hard To Find For Rural Americans

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Drug Addiction Treatment Hard To Find For Rural Americans

While only 1 in 5 Americans with substance abuse problems are getting the treatment they need, persons living in rural areas of America have an extra special set of problems. In addition to a lack of funding, treatments and resources in general, people in small towns face more stigma surrounding drug addiction. Also, they may not have access to transportation, or the means to get to a place where they can receive help.

These issues were discussed this week at a forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The meeting was held to discuss solutions to the the drug epidemic in in rural Maryland and Delaware, and to stress the immediate need for more drug addiction treatment resources in rural areas in general.

Jeff Eschmeyer, senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and event chairperson:

“This will definitely get back to the secretary and back to the White House.”

He spoke about the lack of drug addiction treatment and recovery centers in rural America, citing transportation issues, as well.

He also referred to the increased stigma that drug addicts face in small towns where people grew up with each other and know each other. According to Eschmeyer, this problem “limits the people’s willingness to come forward and get the help they need” and that addiction is “not a character flaw. It’s a disease.”

Among the more than two dozen persons attending the forum included USDA officials, representatives from the Farm Service Agency for Maryland and Delaware, law enforcement, mental health officials, and others.

Others discussed the need for drug addiction treatment above and beyond 28 days.

Dr. Nancy Rosen-Cohen, executive director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Maryland chapter:

“You wouldn’t treat a diabetic and get them on insulin for only 30 days [but] some of our individuals with the chronic brain disease of addiction may only receive treatment for 28 days.”

Additionally, Keith Richardson, clinical supervisor for treatment center Warwick Manor said the duration of stay for impatient care should be increased, and that insurance needs to provide for an appropriate level of care.

Richardson:

“I want some of the pharmaceutical companies to pick up some of this tab.”

Commentary

The problem of limited access to mental health care in rural communities isn’t a new one. Effective, quality drug addiction treatment can be difficult to obtain even for people in urban and suburban areas.

And then there’s the everybody is in everyone’s business problem. I grew up in a town of roughly 6,000 people, full of lifelong residents. I know that it can be tough to come forward, especially when you and your family face the scrutiny of others.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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