Rural vs. Urban Substance Abuse

Rural vs. Urban Substance Abuse

Addiction rates and types vary greatly by location, but the stats in this new report will likely surprise both city-dwellers and their country counterparts.

There are many reasons why an individual chooses to live in a rural or an urban area, from proximity to family, amenities or job opportunities as well as housing prices and quality of life. Aside from those well-considered reasons, the decision to live in the city or the country can have unexpected ramifications, too. A new report shows significant differences in demographics and abuse patterns of substance abuse treatment admissions in rural versus urban communities.

Who knew the choice of where to live could affect the treatment you received if you developed an addiction or the way you wound up in treatment? It’s surprising but true. A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that rural and urban substance abuse treatment admissions in 2009 differed by nearly every aspect examined.

In 2009, rural substance abuse treatment admissions were more likely than urban admissions to be referrals from the criminal justice system (51.6 versus 28.4 percent) and less likely to be self-referrals or referrals from family members or friends (22.8 versus 38.7 percent). So urbanites are more likely to seek help before landing themselves in trouble with the law. Who knew?

In addition, rural admissions were more likely than urban admissions to report primary abuse of alcohol (49.5 versus 36.1 percent) or non-heroin opiates (10.6 versus 4.0 percent), while urban admissions were more likely than rural admissions to report primary abuse of heroin (21.8 versus 3.1 percent) or cocaine (11.9 versus 5.6 percent).

Rural admissions were significantly less likely than urban admissions to report daily use of their primary substance (23.5 versus 43.1 percent), and more likely to have first used that substance prior to turning 18 (32.1 versus 26.7 percent).

In terms of demographics, rural admissions were younger than urban admissions, less racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to be employed (18 or older) full or part-time.

No matter where you live, what substances you abuse and when you start abusing them, the need for education and treatment remains. “There is a real need in this country for substance abuse prevention and treatment in both rural and urban areas. This report underscores that need,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. They hope policymakers and treatment providers will use reports like this as a tool to better serve those in their communities – both rural and urban – suffering from addiction.

Addiction Treatment at The Canyon

If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addiction or co-occurring mental health disorder, call The Canyon at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

2 Responses

  1. Carol September 17, 2012

    I have a dear friend living with me and my husband. He suffers from social anxiety (my name for it – not necessarily the professional definition. ) He has been drinking alcohol (only Jack Daniels Whiskey) for years to allay his fears. He is adamant that he will not be hospitalized – has been “in detox” at least once before and wants to detox on his own having done it relatively successfully before. We do not want him to leave us (meaning hit the streets) and he refuses to consider the hospital . I have promised not to abandon him and we are willing to be supportive caregivers; He has a deep trust in me, and is willing to talk with me about his fears; but we need to know some parameters. We are in NY and wonder where we can turn for some advice and support.

    • carol September 17, 2012

      Why do most alcohol detox programs I am reading about require the patient to go “cold turkey” – from an excessive amt to none ? Many medications/pills recommend decreasing dosages or weaning off a drug. Can this be done through a gradual detox?

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