Clements: FarmTownStrong, a campaign launched by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, seeks to address the rural opioid epidemic. Statistics show that in 2016, opioids were responsible for more than 42,000 deaths, more than the number of people who died from gun-related violence or motor vehicle accidents that year. AFBF’s Ray Atkinson says opioid addiction in rural farming areas is a major concern.
Atkinson: Our country is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose, and it's not just a big city problem. Three in four farmers are, or have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, and three in four say it would be easy for someone in their community to access prescription pain killers illegally.
Clements: The joint campaign offers resources through its website for rural residents impacted by opioid addiction.
Atkinson: Farm Bureau and Farmers Union have developed a FarmTownStrong website at FarmTownStrong.org that has confidential hotline numbers, links to local treatment programs, treatment centers, and physicians authorized to treat addiction. There are also prevention resources and information on how and where to dispose of medication. Just go to FarmTownStrong.org and click on get help now.
Clements: Atkinson says rural communities must come together to overcome the epidemic.
Atkinson: It’s really important for people to talk with their friends and family if they or a family member are dealing with addiction. This problem is too big for anyone to solve alone and we know what farmers do best is pitching in to help farmers in times of need. Rural communities are strong, and the strengths of our towns can overcome this crisis.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.