Did you know that living in a rural area increases your risk for opioid abuse and overdose? The opioid epidemic is considered a national public health emergency and kills an average of 115 Americans every day. As an FFA member, you can help spread the word and break down the stigma of opioid abuse. There’s a new program called #FarmTownStrong designed to help you and other leaders wage the attack. Here’s what you should know.
Q: What is opioid addiction?
A: Opioids include prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others, plus heroin and synthetic drugs, such as the highly lethal fentanyl. Addiction often begins when a prescription painkiller is used longer or differently than it was prescribed.
Q: Why do farmers and ranchers need to be concerned?
A: The rate of drug overdose deaths in rural areas has surpassed rates in urban areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Farmers Union (NFU) conducted a survey of 2,100 rural adults, including farmers and farmworkers. They found that opioid abuse has directly impacted nearly half of all rural adults and three quarters of all farmers and farmworkers.
Q: How can #FarmTownStrong help?
A: At the start of 2018, AFBF and NFU joined forces to start #FarmTownStrong. They enlisted FFA to help build awareness and encourage discussion. The campaign’s website, FarmTownStrong.org, offers resources for opioid abuse prevention, treatment, hotlines, drug disposal tips and ways to encourage communication to help solve the problem. Check it out for ideas on activating the #FarmTownStrong movement in your community.