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Corn, Cattle, and a Flask of Whiskey: Understanding stress and substance use in agricultural and rural populations

Corn, Cattle, and a Flask of Whiskey: Understanding stress and substance use in agricultural and rural populations

Those of us who work in the business of supporting the well-being of our agricultural producers and workers understand that they face unique stressors and ever-increasing demands.  While growing awareness and support around farm stress is resulting in innovative programs and a gradual reduction in stigma, substance use in agricultural remains an important but under-discussed topic.  This presentation will explore the stress response and how prolonged exposure to stress can increase vulnerability to substance use. While high stress and substance use can be quite common across most occupations, our rural communities face their own unique challenges and barriers, which include the following:

  • Geographic and social Isolation
  • Socioeconomic risk factors
  • Increased risk of accident or injury
  • Increased substance use exposure among youth
  • Behavioral health and detoxification (detox) services are not as readily available in rural communities
  • Patients who require treatment for substance use disorder may need to travel long distances to access services
  • Law enforcement and prevention programs may be sparsely distributed over large rural geographic areas
  • Patients seeking substance use disorder treatment may be more hesitant to do so because of privacy issues

Understanding rural and agricultural risk factors associated with substance abuse can help increase the effectiveness of prevention and intervention strategies. In addition to unique risk factors, our rural communities possess many inherent strengths that can be leveraged to promote increased well-being and behavioral health. Participants will learn about strengths-based approaches to intervention along with prevention efforts that increase resiliency and protective factors.

Our Presenter:

Chad Reznicek is a behavioral health specialist with the Colorado AgrAbility Project and is committed to helping expand and improve behavioral health support and resources in rural communities. Prior to joining the AgrAbility team, Chad spent 20 years as a licensed therapist, providing behavioral health services in diverse settings with special focus areas in suicide prevention, trauma, mood disorders, adolescent issues, and substance abuse. He grew up in a small town in central Nebraska with a deep respect for agriculture as the heart of our rural communities.

A question & answer period will follow the presentation.

To participate in this free webinar,click here to access the online registration form by Monday, November 28. Instructions for accessing the session will be sent to registrants by Tuesday, November 29. Please pass on this invitation to others you believe may be interested. Contact AgrAbility at 800-825-4264 or email if you have questions.

The North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Center is supported by USDA-NIFA Project 2020-70028-32728. The National AgrAbility Project is supported by AgrAbility Project, USDA/NIFA Special Project 2021-41590-34813.

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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