Senior White House officials joined representatives from other administration officials Wednesday to announce new resources for rural leaders to use in combating drug addiction in rural areas.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll joined Assistant to the President and Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with local officials, to launch the Rural Community Toolbox, an online clearinghouse to connect rural leaders to funding, data and information to help them fight substance use disorder in their communities.
The toolbox features resources from 16 different federal departments and agencies, making it a one-stop-shop for rural communities looking for help. Additionally, the site provides current information resources on more than 40 topics related to addiction in rural America and federal resources for treatment and recovery support.
“In my travels throughout rural America, I have seen firsthand that not only have rural communities been hard hit by addiction, but there are significant gaps in many rural areas in the resources needed to build strong healthy and drug-free communities,” Carroll said. “With tools like the Rural Community Toolbox, the Trump Administration is committed to being a strong partner to rural leaders by applying a whole-of-government approach in this battle to save lives.”
The toolbox also includes an update to the Community Assessment Tool, an interactive data resource that gives rural leaders access to county-level data about their communities, including drug overdose deaths and some of the socioeconomic factors that may drive trends in substance use. The updated version of the Community Assessment Tool includes data layers on broadband availability, transportation, treatment facilities, healthcare professional shortage areas, economic development districts, and persistent poverty.
A new layer on the rural prosperity index, the administration said, would provide rural leaders with information about community resiliency.
The toolbox is a result of the Federal Rural Interagency Working Group on Substance Use Disorder, which started in July 2018. The Working Group developed the Federal Rural Resources Guide for rural leaders that provided a comprehensive listing of the federal programs rural leaders could use in combating opioid use disorder. Released in October 2018, it became the foundation of the toolbox.
“Rural America has suffered greatly from our country’s drug overdose crisis, and the Trump Administration and HHS have focused attention and resources on strengthening the rural response,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “I have been inspired by the commitment and resilience I’ve seen from rural communities fighting back against the crisis. We are equipping these communities with resources like the Rural Community Toolbox to help them continue the fight and connect Americans to evidence-based prevention and treatment services.”