Fighting Back in Rural America’s Opioid Crisis

Operating a Christmas tree farm for 20 years took a toll on Kathi Albertson’s shoulder, so last January the Cambridge, Ohio, farmer enlisted a surgeon to restore it. Beyond giving Albertson much-needed relief, the surgery sparked a new Farm Bureau program in Guernsey County, where Albertson is a volunteer, to help prevent unused prescription opioid pills from circulating in area communities. The rural, east-central Ohio county is about 60 miles west of Wheeling, West Virginia.

“One of my finest workers died of a heroin overdose,” says Albertson, her voice cracking as she describes the high schooler who had enjoyed driving four-wheelers and helping families pick out holiday trees at Albertson’s farm.

Although Albertson isn’t familiar with how the young worker eventually became addicted to drugs, she knew prescription pain medications were often an entry point. She was horrified when her orthopedic surgeon gave her a prescription for Percocet as she was leaving the hospital. “I didn’t want the pills sitting around my house,” she says.

Read the complete article authored by Karen Bernick, from Successful Farming.

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