Rural Drug Abuse:

Prevalence, Relation to Crime, and Programs

PEMD-90-24: Published: Sep 14, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the nature and extent of the drug crisis in rural areas of the United States focusing on: (1) the prevalence of substance abuse and its relationship with crime; and (2) program effectiveness in the prevention and treatment of rural substance abuse.

GAO found that: (1) total substance abuse rates are about the same in rural and nonrural states; (2) alcohol was the most widely abused substance in rural and nonrural areas; (3) prevalence rates for certain drugs were lower in rural areas than in urban areas; (4) rural and nonrural areas had similar arrest rates for substance abuse violations; (5) the few thorough evaluations that have found substance abuse programs to be effective did not focus on programs in rural areas; and (6) while some treatment programs appeared to reduce drug abuse, over 80 percent of treatment admissions in rural areas were for alcohol abuse.

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