The National Rural Health Association provides excellent infographics on the tragedy in Rural America.
The also provide excellent information:
From the National Rural Health Association (NRHA):
Some restrictions on telehealth services are being loosened after Trump declared the #opioidepidemic a public health emergency, but plenty more is needed to adequately address the crisis: http://read.bi/2hzL3HS
Add your voice to help shape telehealth and opioid epidemic policy with NRHA at the largest rural advocacy event in the country Feb. 6-8 in DC:http://bit.ly/2yiX9Jr
The first link in this quote block is to an article which outlines ways in which people are addressing the crisis in constructive ways, such as advocacy, pill disposal, training for health care providers, and providing a caring community. What I do not see, which is often a staple in religious communities, is the response of the church.
The church can become involved in all of the above suggested constructive ways of addressing the crisis. The church can also help families heal, communities heal, and provide safe spaces for community formation. Some churches already sponsor AA groups, other recovery groups, and provide support. Education and advocacy are in the blood of many denominations, and the personal connections many rural people have with drugs and addiction as well as a deep connection to the community is important.
Furthermore, the church also has the ability to draw on the rural and Christian heritage which intermingle throughout the life of the church to provide new ideas for a rural future which addresses theses issues in life giving and community oriented ways. Easy ways to begin are to educate your congregation about opioid addiction using story and statistics, people need both. Then educate them in advocacy. John Wesley would definitely see advocacy and education around drug issues as a prudential means of grace.
Pretty sure this will be a practical theology paper in the future.