What is a rural opioid risk and policy environment?
summaryThe current US opioid epidemic differs from past drug epidemics in multiple ways. Rural communities that had little or no prior experience with heroin were affected and ill-prepared for the mass introduction of prescription opioids and the subsequent arrival of illicit opioids, including fentanyl. Longstanding methamphetamine production and use in these regions has enabled polydrug use that includes heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and other substances. Lessons learned from urban epidemics are useful but it is clear that research, policy and program planning in rural areas require novel approaches that consider local drug-related risk, social and policy environments.