Rural Americans Rattled By Opioid Epidemic

Rural Americans Rattled By Opioid Epidemic; Many Want Government Help

New Survey Conducted by SSRS for NPR, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Rural Americans are profoundly worried about the opioid crisis and their local economies and many are hoping government can help, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

One-quarter of rural Americans say opioid and other drug abuse is the biggest problem that faces their local communities. A similar share, 21 percent, say economic concerns are the biggest problems in their areas. No other topic even comes close after that. “People” and “government” are the next biggest problems, both registering at 5 percent.

“In a country that has just been focusing for a number of years now on the economic problems facing people living in rural America, the fact that the opioid drug abuse epidemic literally is either the same or even, for many people, more serious than economic issues is an extraordinary finding,” said Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

When it comes to fixing those problems, Clinton voters (72 percent) were more likely than Trump voters (51 percent) to say that their communities would need outside help.

Between those groups, there is perhaps less difference than their political ideologies would suggest.