Appalachia has been hard hit by the opioid crisis and local officials are taking deep looks at all the obstacles and opportunities in the path of abating the crisis.
One issue they are keying in on — jobs and economic opportunity.
Route Fifty reports on a recent summit of Applachian officials:
“If you’ve got a society of addiction, how do you change that addiction?” Greg Puckett, a commissioner for Mercer County, West Virginia, said at Tuesday’s event. “A good job can change a lot. But unfortunately, we have to provide the environment where those jobs can effectively come in, especially in rural communities.”
For some, that may mean outreach to local businesses to encourage them to hire people who have drug convictions or are still in treatment. For others, it could mean improving transit options in rural communities so residents who have lost their drivers’ licenses as a result of substance abuse have a way to get to work.
Research has shown a correlation between drug abuse and lack of access to jobs. One recent study found areas of the United States with declining economic opportunities suffered higher opioid-overdose mortality rates. Meanwhile, getting and keeping a job has been shown to improve a person’s chances of recovery from substance abuse.
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