Study Reveals Differences in Rural and Urban Addicts

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report last week that showed geographic disparities in those seeking drug rehab. SAMHSA studied drug treatment program admissions for rural and urban areas in 2009 and discovered they differed across various factors:

  • 51 % of rural drug treatment program admissions were referrals from the criminal justice system whereas only 28.4 % criminal justice referrals were for urban programs
  • 49.5% of rural admissions reported the primary abuse of alcohol compared to 36.1% of urban admissions
  • 38.7% of urban admissions were self-referrals or referrals from family members and friends compared to 22.8% of rural admissions
  • 21.8% of urban admissions reported the primary abuse of heroin compared to 3.1% of rural admissions
  • 11.9% of urban admissions reported the primary abuse of cocaine compared to 5.6% of rural admissions
  • 43.1% of urban admissions reported daily use of their drug of choice versus 23.5% of rural admissions

Other features of the study included demographics, showing that rural admissions were younger, less racially diverse and more likely to be employed. SAMHSA conducted the study as a means to show the importance of having drug treatment programs privately or publicly funded in both rural and urban areas and to have insight into the specific needs of those admitted. SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said the study should be used as  “a tool that policymakers and treatment providers can use to more effectively meet the substance abuse prevention and treatment needs of the communities they serve.”

This study speaks specifically to drug and alcohol rehabs like Harmony Foundation that is located in the northern part of Colorado, which is known for having higher drug abuse rates than much of the state.

 Given the higher abuse rates in the area, its important to consider the characteristics outlined by SAMHSA of those locally who are admitted to our programs. Clients often need our detox for medically managed withdrawal for alcohol and methamphetamine addiction and are able to take advantage of our special groups and one on one therapy that cater to the needs of younger adults, those transitioning back into the workforce, or those who have lingering obligations to the criminal justice system. For our admissions from urban environments throughout the US our detox unit is prepared for longer withdrawals from those with heroin addiction and benzodiazepine dependence and our group therapy sessions and addiction treatment specialists help clients with relaxation techniques to cope with stresses of urban life and recovery tools to replace their daily dependence on drugs.

However, there are many aspects of drug treatment that universally cater to the needs of rural and urban clients alike. For example, our family program helps all of our clients and their loved ones create new bonds through forgiveness and healing. Our daily schedule is infused with meals, 12 step meetings, physical programs and groups that cater to the universal need of those in recovery to take care of their physical well being, relationships with others, self-esteem and spiritual development.