According to the Rural Health Information Hub, “Substance abuse has long been perceived to be a problem of the inner city. However, alcohol abuse has long been a problem in rural areas, and illicit drugs have infiltrated towns of every size.” These issues are difficult to deal with no matter the location, but frontier communities struggle to provide the most basic prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts even more than rural areas. Isolation further intensifies the obstacles of poverty, unemployment, and lower educational level. In a 2012 comparison of rural and urban substance abuse issues by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it was discovered that small town youth will enter the substance abuse “system” earlier than their urban counter part.
“These are all things I’ve witnessed personally, says Joseph Hill, coordinator of the Pyramid Coalition for substance abuse prevention in Hidalgo County, NM. “Living in Lordsburg, the county seat of Hidalgo County with a population of under 2,400 the effects are obvious. According to the latest New Mexico Department of Health report. Hidalgo County ranks first in the state for adult heavy drinking and second in adult binge drinking, mental distress, and suicide. It’s hard to find someone in our community that has not been touched by an alcohol related death in their friends or families,”
At the National Center for Frontier Communities, we acknowledge community assets and help to improve the capacity of America’s smallest and most remote communities. Our solutions are unique to each frontier location, where local, state and federal funds are scarce and access to local public health offices and social services departments are limited if they exist at all. Our strength is in our relationships where faith communities, local business owners, educators, law enforcement and various other community members come together in unison to be catalysts of change. Margret Mead once said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
Rural Health Information Hub. Substance Abuse in Rural Areas. https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/substance-abuse,retrieved April 2017
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. The TEDS Report: A Comparison of Rural and Urban Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions. 2012
New Mexico Department of Health. New Mexico Substance Abuse Epidemiology Profile, 2017
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