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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

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.
Litchfield County Opiate Task Force
Added March 2020
  • Need: To reduce substance use and harm from the opioid crisis in rural Litchfield County, Connecticut.
  • Intervention: A community network has come together to improve treatment and develop creative ideas and interventions as a response to the opioid crisis.
  • Results: More than 50 people from various sectors of the community meet each month. The LCOTF has also improved service coordination, access, and cross-sector communication; helped expand the number of agencies offering medication-assisted treatment; and introduced harm reduction resources.
Spit It Out-West Virginia
Updated/reviewed February 2020
  • Need: McDowell County, West Virginia, had high rates of tobacco use.
  • Intervention: The Spit It Out-West Virginia program (2008-2010) was created to increase access to tobacco cessation and prevention resources.
  • Results: Hundreds of people were provided with tobacco cessation efforts, 5 workplaces became tobacco free, and tobacco control efforts continue today.
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.
Isanti County SafeCab Program
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: To reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving in Isanti County.
  • Intervention: The SafeCab program provides alternative transportation home for bar patrons who would otherwise drive impaired.
  • Results: The program is credited with a significant decrease in DUI (Driving Under the Influence) arrests and the lower average corresponding BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels in Isanti County.
Staggered Sentencing for Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders
Updated/reviewed October 2019
  • Need: To reduce the incidences of repeat drunk driving.
  • Intervention: Repeat DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders were given a staggered sentence, allowing them to serve their sentence in segments of time, typically separated by several months to a year. The offender was able to file a motion to request a waiver for the remaining sentence period(s), if able to show that he/she maintained sobriety.
  • Results: The incidence of recidivism, or crime relapse, has been reduced among offenders given staggered sentences, by comparison to offenders given traditional DWI sentences. The program has also reduced the average cost of jail time that otherwise would have been served from a full sentence.
The Mission's Pregnancy Support Center
Added October 2019
  • Need: To help opioid-dependent or recovering pregnant individuals in rural Tennessee.
  • Intervention: At The Mission's Pregnancy Support Center, pregnant individuals and their partners can earn points to spend on needed items like bottles, diapers, and maternity clothes.
  • Results: Since the Pregnancy Support Center opened, The Mission has had an increase in attendance at its weekly support group meetings.

Last Updated: 12/18/2020