The opioid crisis is hitting farm families much harder than the rest of rural America, according to a survey commissioned by the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union.

Will Rodger, director of policy communications for the Farm Bureau, says an overwhelming majority of farmers and farm workers surveyed said they have been impacted by opioid abuse.

“Drug addiction is a disease and it’s something that’s taking an increasing toll on rural America,” Rodger says. “Rather than trying to hide the problem, we want to make sure people get treatment, because treatment is available. They just have to make the decision to get out there and get it.”

The survey shows rural adults recognize opioid abuse can begin accidentally with the use of what are deemed as “safe” painkillers.

“Seventy-four percent of people polled in farm country are saying they’ve been directly impacted by opioid abuse, that’s farmers and farm workers,” Rodger says. “By direct impact, we’re talking about people who have abused drugs, are addicted to drugs, have family members or friends who are in a similar situation.”

He says both Farm Bureau and Farmers Union members want those hurt by opioids to get the help they need.

“Oftentimes, you’ll have a person who’s injured or in some sort of pain and they get a prescription for oxycodone or whatever it might be,” Rodger says. “Within a short period of time, they find themselves addicted to it. It’s not that they’re looking to get high, it’s that they’re looking to keep the pain at bay.”

Rodger says both organizations want an education campaign to help those who are being impacted by opioid abuse in rural America.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton