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Rural Health Information Hub

Substance Use and Misuse in Rural Areas – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Other Project Examples

Morrison County Accountable Community for Health
Updated/reviewed September 2021
  • Need: To combat prescription drug misuse in rural Morrison County, Minnesota.
  • Intervention: The Morrison County ACH brings together primary care, social services, law enforcement, and other partners to make sure that patients receive treatment and support.
  • Results: One pharmacy saw a 40% reduction in the number of prescribed opioids, and the ACH was able to taper 684 patients off opioids completely.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration New Horizons Substance Use Recovery Network
Updated/reviewed August 2021
  • Need: In northern Michigan, a need for an integrated approach to deliver medication-assisted treatment for established patients of Federally Qualified Health Centers with opioid use disorder.
  • Intervention: Collaboration between one FQHC across 3 sites, a local waivered prescriber group, and a behavioral health organization created an integrated treatment approach for opioid use disorder.
  • Results: Increased access to medication-assisted treatment and comprehensive substance use disorder services leading to increased retention in treatment and increased engagement in stable recovery from opioid and alcohol use disorders.
Pathways Vermont Housing First Program
Updated/reviewed April 2021
  • Need: Ending a local Vermont population's homelessness experience.
  • Intervention: In 2010, Pathways Vermont implemented a first-of-its-kind, rural-focused Housing First program in order to provide housing and support services to those with mental health and substance use conditions experiencing homelessness.
  • Results: Since its initial start-up, Pathways Vermont has assisted over 560 Vermonters — about 70% from rural areas — experiencing homelessness using the Housing First model. The organization has collaborated with the state mental health department, corrections department, local healthcare systems and providers, and other organizations to end homelessness. In addition, programmatic work has expanded to reach other local populations, including veterans and at-risk families.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy On the Move! Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education (Operation UNITE)
Updated/reviewed February 2021
  • Need: To decrease illicit drug and alcohol use in the Central Appalachian region of Kentucky, where many schools had no type of prevention curriculum.
  • Intervention: Using engaging simulations and presentations, the project delivers substance use prevention education to middle school and high school students.
  • Results: Post-test surveys show that thousands of students are reached through the "On the Move!" project and gain positive knowledge on the dangers of substance use.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Addiction Recovery Mobile Outreach Team (ARMOT)
Updated/reviewed December 2020
  • Need: To reduce the number of overdoses and overdose-related deaths from opioids in rural Pennsylvania.
  • Intervention: ARMOT provides 1) case management and recovery support services to individuals with substance use disorders and 2) education and support to rural hospital staff, patients, and their loved ones.
  • Results: In the first 5 years of the program, ARMOT received over 1,950 referrals.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy MaineGeneral Harm Reduction Program
Updated/reviewed December 2020
  • Need: To reduce deaths from opioid overdoses in rural Maine.
  • Intervention: The MaineGeneral Harm Reduction Program provides community education/training for healthcare staff, first responders, community agency staff, and community members in rural Kennebec and Somerset counties.
  • Results: MaineGeneral continues to train providers, provide stigma assessments, and distribute Narcan kits.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy SLV N.E.E.D.: Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program
Updated/reviewed August 2020
  • Need: Growing concern in rural Colorado communities regarding prescription and illegal opioid overdoses.
  • Intervention: Education efforts for health workers and the larger community, in addition to establishing a naloxone overdose reversal drug program.
  • Results: In addition to continuing to train nearly all first responders to administer naloxone, the organization provides harm reduction education in various community settings.
Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Program
Updated/reviewed June 2020
  • Need: Treatment and rehabilitation for those with alcohol and substance use disorder in a rural area of New Mexico that has high rates of alcohol-related deaths.
  • Intervention: A health center reestablished a 90-day inpatient Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Program that offers career readiness and work placement for clients.
  • Results: The program has grown from 3 to 69 clients enrolled in inpatient treatment and 32 in the work rehabilitation program. Many of the clients are now employed by local businesses. Additionally, organizational and program success has contributed to development of new graduate medical education programs.
Camp Mariposa
Added May 2020
  • Need: To help children whose family members are struggling with substance use.
  • Intervention: A year-round program provides mentoring as well as substance use prevention education.
  • Results: In 2019, Camp Mariposa served a total of 81 youth in its two rural locations in Kentucky and West Virginia.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy funded by the Health Resources Services Administration ASPIN's Certified Recovery Specialist Program
Updated/reviewed November 2019
  • Need: Improved approach in addressing the behavioral health and primary care disparities of Indiana's underserved rural counties.
  • Intervention: A network was established that trained community health workers (CHW) to be certified health insurance enrollment navigators and provide mental health services.
  • Results: This year, ASPIN trained 61 CHWs, cross-trained 37 behavioral health case managers as CHWs, and 26 individuals in the Indiana Navigator Pre-certification Education.

Last Updated: 9/10/2021