Substance abuse can cause brain, behavior, and body alterations that can leave an individual in a severe state of distress. This disease of the person’s brain can cause lasting and even permanent damage to not only their brain but also their body.

Substance abuse and substance abuse disorders are commonly linked to inner cities. Granted, these areas have a higher population density and thus, more disorders. However, substance abuse disorders can also heavily impact rural communities.

What Contributes to Rural Substance Abuse?

 A rural community can be a small town or village usually, it has a population of fewer than 3,000 people. However, these communities make up a good chunk of the United States land area.

Although major cities like Chicago and New York have a higher population density, rural communities have more overdoses. People who reside in rural communities are often younger than the college level or older adults.

Poverty contributes to the rate at which rural substance abuse is growing. Individuals may sell drugs as a way to put food on the table or because it is normalized in their community from years of being exposed to it. They also experience limited access to healthcare services.

Unemployment rates in rural communities are often higher. This is usually because the job opportunities are harder to come by and places to work are limited. When a job opportunity does arise, there is heavy competition which shows just how limited the opportunities are in that area.

Rural communities often have a low rate of educational completion. Similar to job opportunities, the opportunity to attend a college may also be limited. This will also limit the number of job opportunities an individual would be able to apply for.

The spread of rural substance abuse in these communities can be attributed to a variety of factors at play. The above, coupled with inflation, limited access to treatment facilities, and higher stress levels, could also be contributing factors that make rural communities much more sensitive to the disease.

Why Are Overdose Rates So High?

Rural communities that make up most of a States’ land have higher rates or fatal overdoses than urban areas. Scientific research shows that these higher rates of rural overdoses are due to varying factors.

Unfortunately, a large contributing factor to the higher rates of overdoses than urban areas could be a lack of expertise. Emergency medical services, some of which are volunteering their time, may not know how to treat an overdose or the correct procedure.

Rural communities often have limited budgets and make cuts where necessary, including law enforcement. Often, law enforcement will be quite small and will have to cover a large area.

Rural communities are more tight-knit and word spreads through the grapevine. This is why the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol addiction may cause some people not to seek the help they need.

Meth Labs Are the Number One Issue

Rural communities struggle the most with meth abuse. Meth is mass-produced across the border in Mexico, by Mexican drug cartels. Missouri is one of the most notorious states on the topic of meth labs. The predominantly rural state saw an influx of meth labs over the last ten years, sometimes having several incidents a day.

Since the effects of meth wear off quite quickly, addicts seek a high soon after. The need for the drug has been wired into their brain, maybe even causing permanent damage.

This is why crime is correlated with rural communities experiencing drug and substance abuse influxes. Addicts will often engage in criminal activity, as long as it means having access to the drug in order to experience the high.

How Hard is it to Find Treatment for Substance Abuse?

Rural communities often face many obstacles, but especially when it comes to seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Detox centers are few and far between, meaning the average individual living in a rural community does not have access.

Those seeking help may need to travel long distances and may not have the funds or the time. Addiction treatment medication is actually available in some areas by a prescription from a primary doctor. However, this is not usually the case in rural communities, as their physicians rarely have the authority to prescribe such medication.

Primary doctors, physicians, and psychologists may be available to individuals in rural communities, but comprehensive care often is not. This makes finding advanced treatment options, such as inpatient care, difficult. Having to travel to these locations that may be further away could result in lower completion rates of the programs.

This is only natural, as the option is not convenient for the person to continue going. If this is the case with you or a loved one, you may want to consider flying into an inpatient center. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers this option.

The individuals suffering from addiction in rural communities may feel like they will not be able to afford the care of a treatment center or have access. The Affordable Care Act was put in place to help reduce the costs of drug and alcohol rehab. Having insurance, whether private or publicly funded, may help lower the cost of rehab.

For some people, especially those living in rural communities, traveling to a treatment center may be the only option. This allows the addict to choose a location that will best fit their needs and will separate them from their unhealthy life back home. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center has locations throughout Arizona. However, half of their clients are actually flown in.

Recognizing you have an addiction, whether you live in a rural community or urban area, is the first step on the road to recovery and a healthier you. A substance abuse disorder not only affects you physically but can also cause brain and behavior changes. Your brain’s reward pathways being changed can cause you to act irrationally and maybe even illegally.

This can cause strain in your personal life, as well as permanent damage to your mind and body. Reaching out and seeking help will put you on the path to overcoming this potentially fatal disease.

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