Study shows drug access same in urban, rural areas

Aug. 3, 2018, 3:57 a.m. ·

Residents of both urban and rural areas have the same level of access to illegal drugs, according to a study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study, authored by sociologist Patrick Habecker, examined Nebraskans’ social access, or ability to get drugs from somebody they know.

“This isn’t somebody that you worked with four years ago and haven’t seen them since or is somebody that you vaguely know, there is some sort of relationship between the two of you,” Habecker said. “The idea was to capture this sort of access within pre-existing social networks.”

The study “oversimplified” the definition of a rural and urban area within the state, according to Habecker. Cities with a population of over 50,000 people were deemed an urban area, the rest fell under the category of rural areas.

The results from the study found that around 35 percent of Nebraskans, aged 19 or older, have access to marijuana, while 19 percent of Nebraskans reported access to prescription pills.

The study also found that those who attended religious services were less likely to know somebody with access to marijuana by 55 percent.

Habecker said these numbers highlight the misconceptions many have surrounding drug access. He said this problem spreads throughout all areas of the state, rather than just being an urban-specific problem.

“We need to reckon with the fact, even if people may or may not be using more, this access is there,” Habecker said. “So when we think about prevention activities or education we may need to say this is not enough to focus on the city where we think things are but be more broad about it.”