Are rural communities hit harder by the opioid epidemic?
The number of opioid overdose deaths are much higher in rural areas than in larger cities. This is a bit misleading since it may make you think that it means opioids are a bigger problem in rural areas than large communities. That is not entirely true. According to Kaiser Health News, the real problem is that rural areas lack resources and cannot provide the help people need to overcome addiction and seek treatment. At the same time, they also lack the ability to offer proper pain management services.
Because rural areas have less funding and less access to treatment facilities, doctors often have no options for helping people to seek treatment. Instead, these patients end up dying from an overdose due to the time it takes for a doctor to find help.
Another issue is that rural doctors have less access to other pain medications that do not have the addictive effects of opioids. Doctors in rural areas are more likely to continue prescribing opioid medications, which means patients are more likely to end up addicted.
Rural doctors take on a lot when it comes to the opioid epidemic. They can decide to prescribe ineffective pain medications for real pain issues that need something stronger, or they can prescribe opioids, knowing the risks and knowing they have no effective measures to help you if you become addicted. It is a terrible place for them to be.
There is a major need for more resources in rural areas. Not only to stop overdoses and treatment addiction but also to prevent it. Until these areas get what they need, it is likely that overdose deaths in rural areas will remain higher than those in larger areas.