The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic, announced State Director John Huffman today.
"Opioid addiction poses a monumental challenge for communities across Oregon and the country, but especially in small, rural communities with limited resources," said Huffman. "Rural Development is committed to being a strong partner for local leaders. With the launch of this new tool, USDA is helping communities develop data-driven solutions to the opioid crisis."
The Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census, and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers, and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level. The tool is free and available to the public.
Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Government, corporate, and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including healthcare quality and public health systems.
USDA’s launch of the Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, and 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. This crisis is devastating for individuals and families from all walks of life in communities across the country. The severity of the current opioid misuse epidemic requires strong partnerships, innovation, and locally-led approaches to stem the crisis.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities, such as schools, public safety, and healthcare; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/or, and learn how USDA is addressing the opioid epidemic at https://www.usda.gov/topics/opioids.