WASHINGTON, D.C. – To help ensure that local communities have the resources they need to fight back against the opioid epidemic, Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) joined the Office of National Drug Control Policy to announce the launch of the Rural Community Action Guide in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
Oberlander was chosen to participate as a legislator who represents a rural area while also serving as chairman of the Pennsylvania House Majority Policy Committee.
“I was honored to join drug policy experts from the White House and rural leaders from across the country to announce ways we can close the gaps in data, information and resources,” said Oberlander, who is also a certified recovery specialist for drug and alcohol addiction. “Here in Pennsylvania, we have been fighting this epidemic for several years, and while statistics are showing fewer overdoses and deaths, our communities still face the threat of even deadlier opioid substances. This guide will help rural areas with treatment, education and prevention strategies.”
The Office of National Drug Control Policy developed its Rural Community Action Guide (RCAG), which includes background information, recommended action steps and practices for a range of issues related to drug addiction in rural America. The guide is intended to help local leaders meet the challenges created by the opioid crisis, among other addictions.
Specifically, it is designed to assist rural leaders navigate the many federal programs available to address the addiction crisis in small towns. The federal government acknowledged that even though no two rural towns are the same, promising practices shared by rural leaders in one community can be replicated in another.
The Action Guide is based on lessons learned from rural roundtable discussions held in over a dozen states, as well as the experiences of several rural stakeholder partners including the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. It is available online at usda.gov
In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans, or nearly 200 people each day, died due to a drug overdose. Two-thirds of those were a result of opioid use. That same year, the states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“I very much appreciate the attention that President Donald Trump and his administration are giving to the addiction crisis and to rural communities like ours and putting together this guide to take immediate steps to help our communities,” Oberlander said. “It is refreshing to see a president lift up and empower rural areas because he knows they are the backbone of America.”
Representative Donna Oberlander
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Algoe Keaton