Home > Harm reduction and recovery services support (HRRSS) to mitigate the opioid overdose epidemic in a rural community.

Heo, Moonseong and Beachler, Taylor and Sivaraj, Laksika B and Tsai, Hui-Lin and Chea, Ashlyn and Patel, Avish and Litwin, Alain H and Zeller, T Aaron (2023) Harm reduction and recovery services support (HRRSS) to mitigate the opioid overdose epidemic in a rural community. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 18, 23. doi: 10.1186/s13011-023-00532-3..

External website: https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/art...

BACKGROUND: Rural areas in the United States (US) are ravaged by the opioid overdose epidemic. Oconee County, an entirely rural county in northwest South Carolina, is likewise severely affected. Lack of harm reduction and recovery resources (e.g., social capital) that could mitigate the worst outcomes may be exacerbating the problem. We aimed to identify demographic and other factors associated with support for harm reduction and recovery services in the community.

METHODS: The Oconee County Opioid Response Taskforce conducted a 46-item survey targeting a general population between May and June in 2022, which was mainly distributed through social media networks. The survey included demographic factors and assessed attitudes and beliefs toward individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) and medications for OUD, and support for harm reduction and recovery services, such as syringe services programs and safe consumption sites. We developed a Harm Reduction and Recovery Support Score (HRRSS), a composite score of nine items ranging from 0 to 9 to measure level of support for placement of naloxone in public places and harm reduction and recovery service sites. Primary statistical analysis using general linear regression models tested significance of differences in HRRSS between groups defined by item responses adjusting for demographic factors.

RESULTS: There were 338 survey responses: 67.5% were females, 52.1% were 55 years old or older, 87.3% were Whites, 83.1% were non-Hispanic, 53.0% were employed, and 53.8% had household income greater than US$50,000. The overall HRRSS was relatively low at a mean of 4.1 (SD = 2.3). Younger and employed respondents had significantly greater HRRSS. Among nine significant factors associated with HRRSS after adjusting for demographic factors, agreement that OUD is a disease had the greatest adjusted mean difference in HRSSS, followed by effectiveness of medications for OUD.

CONCLUSIONS: Low HRRSS indicates low levels of acceptance of harm reduction potentially impacting both intangible and tangible social capital as it relates to mitigation of the opioid overdose epidemic. Increasing community awareness of the disease model of OUD and the effectiveness of medications for OUD, especially among older and unemployed populations, could be a step toward improving community uptake of the harm reduction and recovery service resources critical to individual recovery efforts.

Repository Staff Only: item control page