Barriers to Formal Drug Abuse Treatment in the Rural South: A Preliminary Ethnographic Assessment

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This article describes barriers to obtaining drug abuse treatment in the rural South using qualitative interviews conducted with 86 illicit stimulant users recruited in rural Arkansas and Kentucky between 2003 and 2005. Fifty-nine (69.0%) of the interviewees had never entered drug abuse treatment. Sixteen (19.0%) participants reported current perceived need for treatment, while seven (8%) were ambivalent about seeking it. Interview data suggest five interrelated categories of barriers to accessing drug abuse treatment: (1) geographical, (2) organizational, (3) economic, (4) social, and (5) psychological. The study findings can inform further examination of rural treatment barriers and have important implications for developing strategies to overcome these obstacles.