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Module 1: Substance Use Disorders in Rural Communities

Substance use disorders occur when an individual's use of alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs causes problems in his or her life. These can include difficulty meeting responsibilities at home or work, disability, and health problems. Substance use disorders are a growing problem in rural communities. As with all communities in the U.S., rural communities have seen dramatic increases in rates of opioid misuse and overdose, while lacking the services and other facilities that are often more available in urban and suburban areas.

Rural communities face major barriers to treatment for substance use disorders. These include limited resources, as rural areas have fewer providers and facilities, and offer services in a wider geographic area compared to urban and suburban areas. The close-knit nature of rural communities also contributes to challenges related to confidentiality, privacy, and stigma for people who are misusing substances or living with a substance use disorder. Lastly, the substance use disorder treatment system is complex and can be difficult to navigate.

For general information on what to consider as you start your program, see Creating a Program: Where to Begin in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

This module defines substance use disorders and explains the need for prevention and treatment programs in rural communities.

In this module: