Rural Sheriffs: ‘We Can’t Arrest Our Way Out of the Opioid Crisis’

(The Crime Report) Across America, opioid misuse and addictions continue to pose a constant threat to American lives, with 130 people in our nation dying of an opioid overdose daily, according to The National Association of Counties . But, the full extent of the American drug problem doesn’t stop there as its impacts on rural communities is much deeper, and often — more deadly, Agri Pulse reports. 

The sharp rise in opioid-related deaths in rural communities has skyrocketed over the past years with many experts and lawmakers blaming a lack of support to the sufferers, as well as the lack of treatment options in non-urban communities. 

Orange County Sheriff William Bohnyak is no stranger to the opioid epidemic, he explains to Agri Pulse. He and his team have dealt with “the plague” that has infected not only his county but numerous other rural areas around the country…

On the Arizona border, Mark Napier, the outgoing sheriff of Pima County and soon-to-be chief of staff for the Cochise County Sheriff Department, has seen a parallel threat to the opioid epidemic — the fact that the drugs that are coming into his rural community are coming over the US.-Mexico border. 

Napier also discusses the financial weight of supporting a drug addiction in a rural community during the pandemic, but says in his Arizona-town specifically, it’s easier on the wallet as meth is as cheap as $10/gram, whereas, in rural counties in Ohio, that same gram of meth will cost anywhere from $40-$80. 

Bohnyak says more resources and funding are needed in rural America to help those addicted.

“Most of the funding and resources are sent to urban areas for treatment and prevention,” he said, “since there is a higher concentration of drug use and distribution in those areas.”

To that end, research shows that people in rural areas are using the drugs the most, but because of the geography of their location and typically lower populations in these towns, sufferers do not have the proper access to extensive treatment centers or resources to overcome their addictions, Agri Pulse explains. 

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