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‘Farm Town Strong’ campaign targets opioid addiction in rural America

January 8, 2018 GMT

A recent study finds opioid addiction is hitting farm families much harder than the rest of rural America and a new outreach campaign is targeting those populations in Nebraska and elsewhere.

Will Rodger, director of policy communication for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the research found 74% of farmers and ranchers may have a problem themselves or they know someone who’s already hooked.

Rodger says, “Most of them are going to know somebody who is strung out on drugs or who is trying to get clean, one way or the other.”

The survey by the Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union found that rural adults do recognize opioid abuse can start accidentally with the use of what are deemed as “safe” painkillers.

“We’re not talking about recreational drugs,” Rodger says. “We’re talking about folks who have fallen into addiction through little or no fault of their own. They got injured, they started on a course of opioids and for whatever reason, whether it’s bad treatment or genetic susceptibility or a combination of the two, they’ve gotten to the point that they can’t get off the drugs.”

The campaign called “Farm Town Strong” provides resources for those in rural America who need help battling opioid addiction.

“It puts together a number of resources that people can turn to so that if they do have an addiction problem or know someone who does, they can get ahold of people who can give them treatment, help them with prevention, folks who can serve as sounding boards so they can figure out what their next step needs to be to get well again,” Rodger says.

The leaders of the Farm Bureau and the Farmers Union are holding discussions on overcoming the opioid crisis at the bureau’s annual convention, underway through Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.