Friday, December 01, 2017

Survey says farmers and ranchers are closer to the opioid epidemic than their rural neighbors are

"The opioid crisis in the United States is impacting farm and ranch families more acutely than their rural neighbors, according to a survey published by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union on Thursday," Karl Plume reports for Reuters.

The online poll of 2,201 rural adults across the U.S. found that 45 percent of the overall rural population reported that a family member, someone they know, or they themselves have taken an illegal opioid or struggle with addiction. But that figure rose to about 75 percent among farmers and ranchers. The numbers were almost the same for a second poll question: three out of four farmers and ranchers said it would be easy for them or someone in their community to get a large amount of opioids without a prescription, compared to 46 percent of the overall rural population.

"A third of those surveyed said it would be easy to access addiction treatment in their local community, while 38 percent said they felt treatment would be effective, affordable or covered by insurance," Plume reports.

The survey did not examine why the epidemic is disproportionately hurting farmers, but the cause may be related to work-related injuries. The opioid epidemic is being driven by prescription drug abuse, and government data shows that farmers have far more workplace injuries that could be treated with painkillers than any other U.S. occupation.

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