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The Rural Responses Initiative

While no corner of the country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, rural America has been hit particularly hard. The Rural Responses Initiative was designed to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with opioid overdoses among individuals who encounter law enforcement or are involved in the criminal justice system in high-risk rural communities and regions.

This initiative, co-funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State Justice Institute, supported a 6- to 12-month planning phase for 21 sites to identify gaps in prevention, treatment, and/or recovery services for individuals who encountered the criminal justice system within the target rural service areas.

Sites then moved into the implementation phase, during which they initiated new activities or augmented existing efforts that strengthened epidemiologic surveillance and public health data infrastructure, implemented effective community-level opioid overdose prevention activities, and established or enhanced public safety, public health, and behavioral health collaborations. Some sites also elected to leverage funding to expand peer recovery and recovery support services that helped people start and stay in recovery.

The Rural Responses Initiative began in January 2020, and all sites concluded their activities by March 2023.

Reducing overdose deaths in rural communities by strengthening public safety, public health, and behavioral health partnerships and enhancing their capacity to implement intervention strategies.