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Farm groups create new resource for farmers battling opioid addiction

Two national farm groups teaming up to take on addiction in rural America, the groups say the opioid crisis has hit farm and ranch families much harder than other rural communities. (MGN Online)

Two national farm groups are teaming up to take on addiction in rural America. The groups say the opioid crisis has hit farm and ranch families much harder than other communities.

The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union started the new year by providing a new resource for farmers who are addicted to opioids.

Farm Town Strong is a campaign born after the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union sponsored a survey on opioid abuse in rural communities.

The results showed 74 percent of farmers and farm workers say they have been directly impacted by opioid abuse. Also, three in four farmers say it would be easy for someone in their community to access opioids illegally.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says some people begin taking prescription medication after an injury on the farm, but then somewhere along the line managing pain develops into drug abuse.

"Once you have developed an addiction then you're working while you're operating large equipment, you're doing dangerous things when you shouldn't be. There's additional risks that come with that. There's the financial problems of trying to pay for these prescriptions. Then there's depression, additional suicide, there's the legal issues," Hansen said.

Hansen also believes it's time for folks in farm communities to acknowledge that issues like drug abuse aren't exclusive to urban areas.

"It behooves all of us in our society, but especially in rural communities, to take in new information and think about things differently and be more aware of what's going on in our communities and figure out how we can do a better job of addressing those things and working together to deal with those things," Hansen said.

Visit FarmTownStrong.org for information on opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and to find out how to properly dispose of unused medication.

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