Understanding the Heroin Crisis in Rural America


The big city isn’t the only place addiction looms. It can happen anywhere.

Heroin addiction recovery centers play a vital role in reversing the negative impact substance abuse has on our nation’s rural and small communities. While families from coast to coast are suffering, small towns in the heartland are especially hard hit. Some states report a sharp uptick in the number of minor children being placed in foster care because both parents are battling addiction. Families are overwhelmed. According to the most recent statistics available, more than 2.6 million grandparents have assumed the role of raising one or more grandchildren as parents enter rehab or, sadly, die as a result of opioid use. 

In Pennsylvania, “103,000 children are in the care of grandparents or other relatives. Experts point to opioids as a major driver of the growth of that number”

Sen. Bob Casey, Special Committee on Aging.

While the crisis is real, there is hope for recovery. Heroin addiction recovery centers implementing evidence-based detoxification and behavioral modification programs offer people struggling to overcome addiction a path to a healthier, drug-free lifestyle. Rural communities often have fewer resources and medical personnel with experience treating substance abuse and other mental disorders. This shortage of available help exacerbates the problem, and frustrates people who want to leave the lifestyle, but have no idea how to even get started.

Sometimes, the best solution is finding a treatment facility in another town or state. A thoughtfully-designed recovery treatment plan considers extenuating circumstances, such as socioeconomic status, ethnic, cultural and racial influences, and community-level factors that lead to substance misuse. Poverty seems to be a common denominator. Many experts agree that rural prosperity and heroin use are inextricably linked.

Reversing the Rural Decline: The Innovative Heroin Addiction Recovery Centers Approach

Approaching the opioid crisis, including heroin addiction, as a collaborative commitment, includes prevention, treatment, and long-term recovery strategies. Rehabilitation centers committed to developing strong aftercare programs work with a wide range of community partners to boost rural prosperity, often connecting the recovering addict with employers willing to give them a fresh start with a new job.

When poverty declines, small towns should see a return to economic opportunity and a higher quality of life for residents in farming communities, and other non-metropolitan settings.

Non-12-step treatment programs customize every aspect of the recovery journey from detoxification through the inpatient recovery plan and post-facility aftercare that continues as a lifetime support network.

The goal of every treatment facility is helping patients achieve permanent freedom from drug addiction. Achieving success looks different for every client; however, all programs include individual and group therapy, nutritional counseling, physical exercise, expressive therapy opportunities and behavioral modification support to help patients develop coping mechanisms for stressful real-world situations.

In 2017, for the first in our nation’s history, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported the mortality rates for working-age adults are increasing because of opioid (and heroin) overdoses. Non-traditional rehabilitation facilities have an opportunity to proactively partner with rural communities across America to overcome recovery barriers.