Individuals living in rural areas have a unique social & cultural drinking context and experience major barriers in accessing alcohol support & treatment services. The committee should consider: 1. Social norms o Alcohol use is disproportionate in rural communities, given the lack of alternative recreational activities. o Alcohol is entrenched in cultural & social norms due to traditions, hospitality and economic dependence on tourism & alcohol production. 2. Challenges o Major issues with transport & network access. o Healthcare & service providers face difficulty in recruiting/retaining/developing staff. o Funding models often related to population size, which does not account for the added costs of providing services in a rural population of fewer, harder to reach people. 3. Stigma o Stigma is made worse by living in a small community where privacy is difficult & is a major barrier in accessing services. 4. Recovery o Recovery communities offer opportunities for social interaction, support & provision of safe, alcohol-free spaces & activities for people in recovery - but are less common in rural communities. The committee should ensure that there is a rural component to any alcohol strategies which aim to mitigate the issues as described above. The committee should also consider the recommendations in the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems report ‘Rural Matters: Understanding alcohol use in rural Scotland’.
I work in a rural area and I see these issues and challenges every day in my patients.
My experience with listening to individuals with lived experience and providers in rural areas fits well with these priorities
There's been a reduction in access to specialist alcohol treatment, including in health boards serving predominantly remote and rural areas, over the past decade or so. This has been happening while alcohol deaths have been increasing.
Rural areas do not have the benefit of anonymity in accessing services - AA's are brilliant but not anonymous when everyone knows if you attend a meeting. Health care settings and health professionals can provide confidentiality and expertise in a way the third sector cannot
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