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By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer

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Combating the opioid epidemic in rural areas using USDA grants and loans is an idea that was proposed last year by U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat. Their bill, the Addiction Recovery for Rural Communities Act, outlined a strategy similar to what the USDA has adopted.

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In Delaware, overdose deaths are up more than 50 percent in a few years, from 229 in 2015 to 345 in 2017. The state has added new funding almost every year since 2014 for substance abuse or mental health, and has added residential treatment, sober living beds, outpatient treatment and recovery response centers. Democratic Gov. Jay Carney is requesting .3 million in new funding for the upcoming budget year for 20 additional sober living beds and emergency room consultations.

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