Rural communities face greater transportation barriers than urban communities, including fewer public transportation options, which can make finding transportation services a difficult process. Due to shortages of behavioral health providers and facilities in rural areas, patients often travel great distances, often to neighboring counties, to access services. A Yale School of Medicine study found that individuals residing in rural counties experience longer transportation time to opioid treatment programs than residents in urban counties.
Travel time to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment may have serious implications for treatment and recovery. Research shows that shorter travel distances are associated with longer stays in treatment programs and greater completion rates. Additionally, people who need to seek care may not have a driver's license or may not be able to transport themselves to treatment. Transportation services may help support rural SUD treatment programs.
For additional information about providing transportation services in rural communities, see the Rural Transportation Toolkit.