Realizing the threat opioid menace poses to the United States, particularly in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD) has launched an interactive map to help deal with the drug crisis. The Opioid Misuse Resource Map, put on its website, is an effort to “approaching the opioid crisis with a dedicated urgency.”
Egged on by the Trump administration, Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, USDA recently unveiled the feature to keep tabs on the steps taken to tackle opioid overdose in rural areas. The visitors to the website can have direct access to the interactive map, which will enlighten them on the actions taken by rural leaders to fight the prevalence of opioid overdose across the country. They can also replicate these actions in their own region. This seems a promising enterprise and is expected to help bring down the opioid overdose rate to some extent.
“Leaving no community untouched, the opioid epidemic has taken a monumental toll on many of the small towns and rural places that are the heartbeat of our country,” Hazlett said. “USDA is a strong partner to rural leaders in addressing this issue through programs for prevention, treatment, and recovery, as well as programs that build rural resilience and prosperity for the future.”
The department has been organizing roundtables at the regional level to assess the state of affairs regarding opioid overdose and what can be done to deal with the issue at hand. USDA has also decided to provide investments in three key grants to work on the crisis in areas prevalent in the rural parts of America.
As per a recent report, there was a steep rise in people dying from opioid overdose between 2000 and 2016 to such levels that life expectancy decreased by 1.1 years per person.
Opioid antidote – Ohio shows the way
Even as drug overdose deaths continue to soar, there is still hope. While it is important to prevent the flow of drugs to gullible users, it is also critical to provide them access to addiction treatment. However, before treating patients for addiction, saving lives in the eventuality of drug overdose is also equally important. Naloxone, available as Narcan nasal spray, has proved to be an effective opioid overdose antidote.
Ohio’s Hamilton County, for example, which launched a project – making Narcan easy available at a cost of $75 for a pack of two – in September 2017 in association with the University of Cincinnati, could reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdose. The project, partially funded by Irish firm Adapt Pharma, brought down the death rate by 34 percent in five months in 2018 as compared to the previous five-six months.
Trump’s task force
President Donald Trump had launched a Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April 2017. Its findings were presented by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, in January 2018. It emphasized on the need for quality of life, which included the need to modernize access to health care in rural areas, especially mental and behavioral health, which often stemmed from opioid overdose and substance abuse.
“These enhancements allow for even greater sharing of ideas and successful approaches in the struggle against opioid abuse,” said Jason Allen, Rural Development Director for Michigan. “There is no single solution, which is why our ongoing collaboration with state and local stakeholders is so essential.”
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