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Substance Use Disorder and Collective Impact Projects in Rural Communities

Posted by Joe Antle on February 28, 2020 10:15 AM EST
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A recently published report by a prominent Federal government agency sheds light on the....

....critical actions that are needed to address substance abuse and promote significant and sustained recovery initiatives in rural communities.

I spent some time reading this entire report that was sent to me by a colleague in the substance abuse recovery industry.  The report is chock full of great information and is essentially a guideline for attacking the problem which is quite pronounced in rural communities.   This recently published report is titled "Rural Community Action Guide"- here's the https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rural-community-action-guide.pdf ).  It takes a bit of time, but it is a remarkable "read", and highly relevant....to CareTrek, and other partners we are currently or will seek to engage in the future.

I found that pages 24- 29 are extremely relevant, especially for the question about the fact that most of the rural communities are hit hard by substance use disorder, and the opioid crisis.  And most rural communities have lean resources.    And pages 41-60 promote the idea and actions needed for galvanizing community-wide recovery efforts, which will be important as responses to local addiction recovery treatment services and aftercare program surface, perhaps with new sources of local funding resulting from opioid crisis legal settlements and philanthropic funding.  Finally, the sections that include the final pages (61-83) of the report provide details of what actions can make up community-wide recovery efforts is also strong.

 However, if I had to put a spotlight on the most relevant paragraphs in all 85 pages it would be the ones below because it applies not only to rural communities and their employers but to all employers everywhere (and it bolsters the idea of trading pre-employment and ongoing random testing with the employer sponsorship fee:

1. The most profound challenge for businesses associated with SUD is the difficulty in filling open positions with workers who can pass a standard drug test. Other challenges lie primarily in attracting and maintaining an adequate and consistently productive workforce. Finding ways to support employees who develop a substance use problem while on the job and retain the employees who struggle to maintain sobriety. Finally, finding ways to prevent employees without a SUD from falling into addiction and expanding workplace practices to include people in recovery from substance misuse.

2.  “The person in recovery needs an opportunity to show that he or she can be accountable and productive in the workplace and maintain his or her sobriety.”

3. “A community-wide support system led by employers and public service organizations can offer support to job seekers in recovery.”
Rural Community.

4. “To be effective, efforts to address the consequences of SUD should be tightly coordinated locally.

5. “Telehealth services allow expanded care options for communities that cannot yet support a larger workforce to address SUDs, while still retaining a network of local healthcare providers.”

 All this is to say that I think we're heading in the right direction....but it is a long journey and we'll need to "stay on track"!

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