What is it about?

A rural community of some 25,000 will and determination to face the growing opioid epidemic while joining together to build measurable prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery. Issues of addressing the community will, organizing framework of efforts, need for workforce and education of medical leaders and enhancing public awareness, public health services and public safety simultaneously are the foundations to the efforts made and outcomes reported.

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Why is it important?

This effort was done more by the collective will of the community, health leaders and coordination and expansion of services (e.g. treatment, MAT, worker education at local university, medical leaders) than adding new dollars or grants. In Hancock County, Findlay became the hub for an otherwise rural county with a major drug corridor passing through it. All factors were considered. Resistance from some was an initial barrier, believing such community effort would only add to the problem or create an adverse image of the community in general. Didn't happen. The effort united the majority and strengthened the will.


Few communities can report success, to date, in facing the opioid epidemic - especially of those living in its "eye." Hancock County can. Through the unique leadership of just a few people with responsible positions (such as the County MH SU Director and hospital Medical Director, Jail, Court) and enormous effort to see what could and must be done was undertaken from a core determination expressed as "we take care of our own." Many times the economics didn't add up but actions still followed. Other counties are now replicating and Harvard/Brandeis is beginning to conduct a cost analysis.

Michael Flaherty

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Rural America, Psychiatric Services, September 2018, American Psychiatric Association, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.691004.
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