Studies show that rural Nebraskans have about the same access to illegal drugs and harmful prescription drugs as those who live in urban areas. However, the affects on those populations could differ due to unequal access to different resources.

This inequality often leads to increased risks of suicide, overdose deaths and poor health status.

Limited treatment in rural Nebraska

The NET website reports that rural Nebraskans have fewer resources for treatment of drug overdoses than those who live in cities. This could have serious ramifications for individuals seeking to stop the cycle of drug abuse. While certain medications, such as methadone, show promise for ending addiction, those treatments are typically only administered in clinics in Lincoln and Omaha.

A second treatment, buprenorphine, tells a similar story. Of 54 prescribers in Nebraska, only 13 occur in rural communities. A third treatment option, known as peer support, seeks to pair a person struggling with addiction with a mentor experienced in the challenges of overcoming drug use; this option is also most likely to exist in urban communities.  At least one group, Rural Drug Addiction Research Center, works to provide more opportunities for rural Nebraskans to receive better treatment options.

Continued suffering in the U.S.

The Rural Health Information Hub paints a similar picture of substance abuse in rural areas throughout the U.S.  The article cites limited resources for prevention, treatment and recovery, even though rural areas typically have higher rates of alcohol abuse, tobacco use and methamphetamine use. When it comes to substance abuse, those in rural America face unique risk factors:

  • Lower education attainment
  • Isolation
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment

Young rural Americans are also more likely to binge drink than those in metropolitan centers. A 2019 survey showed that those in rural areas reported slightly lower uses of marijuana and cocaine.