Opioid risks highest in small cities, rural areas

Many people think illicit drugs are “big city” problems, and that rural areas are somehow more wholesome and immune to issues with addiction and hard drugs. A recent study, however, spells out the very opposite — for a number of reasons, those who live in Canada’s rural areas and cities under 100,000 are actually at higher risk to opioid overdose, drug-related hospitalization, and death, versus those that live in large cities.

To delve into the why behind this, RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney spoke with Carly Weeks, health reporter and columnist for the Globe and Mail. Weeks recently published her coverage of the report and has been covering the opioid crisis in Canada for some time.

She says the report does list some key reasons why rural and small-town citizens are at higher risk, and it’s not all about lack of services, well-stocked first aid kits, or distance to hospital — though these factors play a role. Weeks says jobs and careers more common in smaller cities and rural areas also are a factor. She points out, more physically-demanding and labour-intensive jobs leave our bodies injured and worn, and prescription pain killers end up being more frequent.

It’s that kind of perspective that may surprise many in rural areas, who likely associate drug use with big cities, homelessness, or a party crowd. The reality is, much opioid use starts out all very legal.

Read the entire Health Canada report here

How did we get here? Listen to Weeks and Haney discuss the opioid crisis at length, including a history, the extent of the risk, and if we’re really doing enough to address this health crisis in rural areas.

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