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Voices / Letters from readers

Substance abuse in rural communities: We are not worse, just more visible

Because of where I work — at the Hotel Pharmacy in Brattleboro — I have seen firsthand what drug abuse can do to a family as well as to a community. I want to explore why substance abuse seems to be so prominent in such a rural area, and if that plays a role in the abuse and recovery process.

It is a pretty well known fact that substance abuse is problematic throughout the United States. Whether it be drugs or alcohol, or even both, addiction is a scary disease. Why, exactly, do substance abuse and drug addiction seem to be taking over our small, rural town?

It seems as though in an area like this, everyone knows everyone’s business, so one would think that people would put more of an effort into keeping their business private.

On the other hand, because of the geographical area we live in, it can almost be expected that people who are bored are going to experiment with drugs — especially those who do not have money to travel out of the area or who feel as though they do not have other things to do.

Many people assume that kids from a small town just get together and party. From my own experience, this seems to be true. Going to high school somewhere that is quite literally in the middle of the woods on the side of a mountain, I witnessed many of my classmates leave school to go get high. Unfortunately, many of these kids are still in my hometown, and they probably always will be.

The fact that even the nearest McDonalds is almost an hour away gives kids ample time to explore the woods and experiment with drugs. I have even heard firsthand, “What else is there to do here?”

One would think that substance abuse would be more prominent in areas such as the one where I grew up. But in fact, it is not. Research shows that drug abuse is just as prevalent there if not more so, but the abuse is more noticeable in rural areas — especially ours.

The reality is, most areas are about equal as far as abuse goes. There are just fewer people in rural areas, making abuse more noticeable.

Caitlin Garry

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Originally published in The Commons issue #484 (Wednesday, November 7, 2018). This story appeared on page D3.

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