Giving Compass’ Take:
• The opioid crisis affects the rural community in a myriad of ways and philanthropists and funders do not know exactly where and how to help.
• Should philanthropists from rural communities fund local organizations in order to mobilize community action?
• Read about some recent policy frameworks that Lehigh County, PA has found to address the opioid crisis.
The opioid crisis is the story of many kinds of pain. What tends to dominate that story is an awful paradox: fifteen to twenty years ago, well-meaning efforts to kill pain began to kill people instead.
But while the death toll is unquestionably horrifying, this crisis extends well beyond addiction.
Rural communities tend to be self-reliant, and also older than the rest of the country. Their resources can be limited and they are frequently overlooked. This is a dangerous mix: according to the CDC, people in rural counties are nearly twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as people in cities. The resulting community chaos, personal pain, and economic loss are enormous as well.
A key strength of rural communities – cohesiveness – can actually make matters worse, particularly for older people who are drawn into the troubles of addicted children, friends, and extended family. A rise in elder abuse and financial exploitation is also attributed to the opioid crisis, as more adult children with addiction problems move back in with their parents.
Another stark reality is that philanthropic attention for rural America has historically been disproportionately low. This neglect has been costly for a huge part of the country that is crucial to agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and more.
This multi-faceted crisis presents numerous entry points for philanthropies of all types and sizes. What’s important now is for funders to begin to help overwhelmed communities figure out what they need and where to start.
Read the full article about the opioid crisis by John Feather at Philanthropy Daily
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