The Rural Opioid Project

For several years, the misuse of drugs, especially opioids, has been destroying families.  In 2016, an estimated 2.1 million people, age 12 and older, had an opioid disorder.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 36% of children nationwide who enter foster care have a parent involved in drug abuse.  In addition, those living in rural areas are more likely to die of a drug overdose.  To better understand and help to address this issue, the National Family Preservation Network conducted the Rural Opioid Project.

This project consisted of three parts:

  • A conference at a rural site (Lumberton, NC) to highlight prevalence of rural opioid use and to elevate effective interventions and strategies to preserve families involved in opioid abuse;
  • Data collection at three sites (Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia) on rural opioid use; a fourth rural site in Idaho was added for comparison;
  • In-depth interviews conducted with opioid users.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation funded the majority of the project. NFPN and the following universities also contributed to the project: Murray State University, University of North Carolina Pembroke and Marshall University.

During the course of the project, the following information was posted on NFPN’s website and sent to email subscribers:

Recently, the final report on the project was submitted to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  It can be accessed in the “Articles” section of NFPN’s website (item #13):

This report includes several findings:

  • Opioid use by adults was preceded by substance use in teen years including alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco. One suggestion is to provide comprehensive drug awareness and prevention programs in all schools.  More research and focus on effective ways to prevent teen substance use are needed.
  • Poly-drug use is common. More data and research on the use and impact of poly-drug use are needed.
  • Drug courts and family treatment courts have proven to be effective in providing treatment.
  • The most critical finding is that family support and involvement are key elements to addressing substance misuse. Intergenerational models of treatment need to be developed and tested.  Treatment programs should include a family component.

While this project generated valuable information in several areas, it is no surprise that keeping families together is an effective way for them to help each other through substance misuse.  Preserving families is essential to addressing this issue and so many more!

Posted by Michelle Reines, NFPN Executive Director







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