Opioid and Substance Misuse has become an urgent public health crisis in the United States. Rural communities are not immune to its effects, and are disproportionately affected by prescription opioid misuse and abuse. Economic challenges, occupations that require hard labor that can lead to chronic pain, and poor access to healthcare are major contributors. A policy brief prepared for the Virginia Senate characterized the opioid crisis in rural areas of Virginia as a “perfect storm due to the large supply of prescription opioid drugs, limited public understanding, and lack of access to treatment combined with a physical labor economy and historic isolation from advancements in medicine”. Source
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) offers evidenced based programming to local rural entities, such as schools, churches, and community service boards to aid in creating an environment of resilience and prevention for our communities. Through grants based at the USDA and SAMHSA, VCE is able to offer Botvin Lifeskills and Mental Health First Aid programming to 42 counties in all VCE regions across the state.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is well-positioned to address technical assistance needs through its network of local offices throughout the state, its focus on bringing evidence-based information to local communities and strong existing relationships in rural communities. Local Extension offices can serve as the backbone for a collective impact approach.
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