New program targets surging rural substance abuse

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 10:12 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A million-dollar grant will help pay for a new collaboration designed to help combat the rise in substance abuse and addiction. The effort, dubbed Wisconsin Rural Health & Substance Use Clinical Support (or RHeSUS, for short), kicked off this month and targets improving care for patients in rural areas.

“In many places, health care workers don’t have familiarity with addressing these patients’ needs, but by being able to recognize and meet their needs before their conditions worsen, we can prevent unnecessary suffering and deaths,” UW Health’s Dr. Randall Brown explained.

The partnership between UW Health and the Wisconsin Hospital Association plans to begin by training health care workers at rural hospitals and clinics to recognize signs of substance abuse and provide care for patients. It has already launched on-call support for workers who need immediate help.

Brown noted that abuse of alcohol, opioids, and other drugs were already rising before the COVID-19 pandemic and has only surged since then. He added, “[t]he need is as great as it’s ever been for substance abuse disorder services, especially in rural areas.”

The community action grant is being funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program.

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