To evaluate community attitudes concerning opioid use disorder (OUD) and medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in a rural community, and to plan educational initiatives to reduce stigma surrounding OUD and treatment.
Dissemination of a 24-question survey to people living in a rural community followed by comparative analysis of survey results between 2 groups classified by recognition of OUD as a real illness.
Three hundred sixty-one individuals responded. Overall, 69% agreed that OUD is a real illness. Respondents recognizing OUD as a real illness were less likely to agree that individuals with OUD are dangerous (P = .014), more likely to agree that MOUD is effective (P < .001), that individuals with OUD should have the same right to a job (P < .001), and that naloxone should be administered for every overdose every time (P = .002).
Significant stigma exists toward individuals with OUD in rural communities, and recognizing OUD as a real illness is associated with less stigmatizing attitudes and better understanding of MOUD. Further study should focus on how to effectively convince communities that OUD is a real illness.

© 2020 National Rural Health Association.