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RCORP - Rural Center of Excellence on SUD Prevention

Rural Opioid and Direct Support Services (ROADSS)

Facts to Move Forward

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Rural and Appalachian communities have been hard hit by opioid use disorder (OUD)

  • Nearly 50% of rural Americans, and 74% of farmers, have been directly impacted by non-medical opioid use.1
  • In 2017, the death rate for opioid overdoses in Appalachian counties was 72% higher than in non-Appalachian counties.2

OUD is a treatable disease

  • OUD is a treatable chronic disease that changes an individual’s brain circuitry, creating a physical dependence on opioids.
  • Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) such as methadone are an effective treatment for OUD that help the brain function in a healthy way again.
  • Methadone lessens withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids.3

Access to MOUD is critical

  • Experts agree that improving access to opioid treatment programs (OTPs) is critical for rural communities to fight the opioid crisis.4

Methadone saves lives

  • Methadone maintenance programs have reduced deaths among people with OUD by approximately 50%.

Methadone maintenance programs have wide-ranging benefits 

  • They reduce drug-related crime, decrease HIV and hepatitis infections, and support retention in treatment programs.5
  • Individuals with OUD may have complex physical and mental health needs involving frequent use of services and high costs.
  • In addition to providing MOUD, OTPs coordinate patients’ care, addressing a range of health and social needs efficiently.6

There are myths about methadone—and these resources show they are just that: myths




[1] American Farm Bureau Federation & National Farmers Union. (n.d.). Rural opioid epidemic. American Farm Bureau Federation. Retrieved September 28, 2021.

[2] National Association of Counties. (n.d.). Opioids in Appalachia: The role of counties in reversing a regional epidemic. Retrieved September 28, 2021.

[3] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Medications for opioid use disorder save lives. National Academies Press, pp. 2-5; National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January). Treatment approaches for drug addiction. DrugFacts. Retrieved September 28, 2021.

[4] Johnson, Q., Mund, B., & Joudrey, P.J. (2018). Improving rural access to opioid treatment programs. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 46(2), 437-439.

[5] Schuckit, M. A. (2016). Treatment of opioid-use disorders. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(4), 357-368.

[6] Stoller, K. B., Stephens, M. A. C., & Schorr, A. (2016). Integrated service delivery models for opioid treatment programs in an era of increasing opioid addiction, health reform, and parity [White paper]. American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence.