The Role of Rural Hospitals in Addressing Substance Use Problems
Speaker: John Gale, MS, Senior Research Associate, University of Southern Maine’s Rural Health Research Center
Substance use is an ongoing problem in rural communities. While the opioid crisis is a priority concern for many community leaders, the negative impact of substance use extends to other prescription medications such as benzodiazepines, tranquilizers, and stimulants; illicit drugs such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines; common household chemicals such as gasoline, solvents, aerosols, and glue; and alcohol. The drivers of substance use in rural communities involve a complex set of issues and an engaged community response is necessary to address these issues. Rural hospitals can play an important role in addressing community level substance use issues by implementing evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies as part of their community benefit and population health portfolios. This session will explore the issues driving substance use in rural communities and discuss the role of rural hospitals in supporting and participating in community-based strategies and programs to address this ongoing population health problem.