The opioid epidemic in our rural areas was a topic of discussion during a recent Democratic Presidential Primary debate. It’s a positive sign to see presidential candidates bringing the issues we are facing to the national stage. We hope by having political figures discuss our issues during widely publicized events, it will inspire deeper action to find meaningful solutions.
One of the reoccurring sentiments was the topic of accountability for those who caused the spread of opioids in our communities. We agree with the need for accountability. However, we also feel if we want to see the opioid epidemic solved then it’s important to also discuss and really focus on the complex issues of rural areas such as poverty, underinvestment, and hopelessness which provided fertile ground for the opioid epidemic to take root.
Appalachia and other areas with high rural concentrations have a need for increased resources and investment to advance social and economic opportunities. Fahe currently leads a collaboration of community, health, and governmental stakeholders who are working together to provide drug recovery and job placement services in Appalachia. In Fiscal Year 2019, Fahe served over 80,000 people. An increase in investment would allow us to have an even greater impact in housing, quality jobs, infrastructure, and education. In addition it would allow for expansions to drug recovery and prevention programs which lack a greater presence in many rural areas.
If we want to eliminate the opioid epidemic, we must address the economic conditions and hopelessness people face in our rural areas. We encourage candidates to engage in meaningful national discussions about the cause and solution of rural poverty and underinvestment to foster real change around issues like the opioid epidemic and the overall health and prosperity of our communities.