Reaching Rural Initiative

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the State Justice Institute; and the National Association of Counties, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research is excited to share with you a new initiative, Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions.

This new initiative is grounded in the value of “for rural, by rural.” The hallmark of the Reaching Rural initiative is learning from rural practitioners and facilitating engagement across rural communities.

What is the Reaching Rural initiative?

The Reaching Rural initiative is a one-year initiative. Over the course of the year, the selected individuals and teams will receive coaching and participate in skill-building workshops as well as virtual and in-person learning experiences.

Participation in the Reaching Rural initiative includes:

  • Travel and per diem costs to participate in an orientation, a field visit to observe the implementation of evidence-informed practices in a rural setting, and a closing session at the end of the 12 months. This is not a grant opportunity.
  • Monthly mentorship and guidance aimed toward your local needs.
  • Monthly assignments that help you apply core concepts to your local community or region.
  • Access to a diverse network of rural peers, innovative rural communities, and technical assistance providers.
  • Formal recognition for completing the planning initiative.

Is the Reaching Rural initiative for You?

We are seeking individual practitioners or cross-sector teams from the same community or region interested in adopting bold solutions and reimagining how diverse organizations and agencies with different missions can engage with one another to address the persistent challenge of substance use and misuse in rural communities.

The Reaching Rural initiative is designed for rural agency leaders or mid-level professionals working in counties, cities, or tribes as justice, public safety, public health, or behavioral health practitioners.

Applicants may apply to participate in the Reaching Rural initiative as an individual practitioner or as a member of a cross-sector team from the same community or region. Participation is limited to up to 20 individual practitioners and up to 10 cross-sector teams.

Read the Solicitation

The deadline for applying is September 30, 2022, at 5:00 p.m., ET.

Curious to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about this initiative and application process, join us for an informational webinar on August 31, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., ET. Register at

You can also email us with questions at

International Never Give Up Day

August 18th is International Never Give Up Day. This day is a global celebration of cultivating a mindset of determination. Our experiences working and living with people affected by the opioid epidemic brings us into daily contact with those who “never give up.” This is a day to celebrate them! Go to for some ideas on how to acknowledge their determination and to thank those that have helped you through your own journey.

National Parents Day (July 24th)

July 24th is National Parents Day. It is meant to recognize “outstanding parents, celebrate the teamwork in raising children, and support the role of parental guidance in building a strong, stable society.” Those involved in work with substance use disorders know that parenting with an SUD is difficult for the entire family. In 2017, there were nearly 9 million children (12% of the total population of children in the U.S.) living with a parent with an SUD. The factsheet in the link offers resources available to support all members of a family struggling with the consequences of substance misuse.

The Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July! Independence Day! July brings one of the biggest holidays of the year and a favorite party weekend for summer. While we enjoy the cookouts, fireworks, and other fun activities, these festivities can be triggers for people living in recovery, especially those that are in the early phases. Numerous recovery program websites offer similar tips for staying safe and sober during events while still enjoying the holiday with friends and family: have a plan including an exit strategy, stick with sober buddies & have a friend to call, host your own alcohol-free event, and stay centered and focused on your recovery. In the spirit of celebrating July 4th with cool summer drinks, follow these links for some “mocktail” recipes and other sober libations!

PrEP for HIV Prevention

We would like to echo a message sent out by Positively Living Inc in Knoxville regarding HIV prevention:

PrEP is preventative medication used by people who are HIV-negative but at high risk for being exposed to HIV through sexual contact or injection drug use. Individuals can take PrEP medication ahead of time in order to prevent the virus from establishing an infection

COVID-19 has led to a decrease in sexual activity (good job social distancing y’all!) Unfortunately, this has also resulted in some folks forgetting or stopping their Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which helps prevent the spread of HIV.

It is very important to continue taking PrEP as directed for a few reasons:

  • It can be very difficult to predict when your next sexual encounter might be, and once you stop and then re-start PrEP it takes 7 days to become effective for males, and 21 days for females!
  • If you stop, you MUST have an HIV test prior to restarting PrEP. This is because if an individual is HIV positive and begins taking PrEP, the virus could become resistant to anti-viral medications.
  • We are living in an uncertain time and stress levels are at an all-time high. One benefit of taking PrEP is that it can help reduce anxiety surrounding sex, and our lives in general.

Choice Health Network is committed to making PrEP accessible, even during COVID-19. We are continuing to offer telehealth appointments combined with labs to make the process as safe as possible. And, if you would prefer a 90-day supply of PrEP as opposed to a 30-day supply, we can provide that!

Reducing the number of new HIV infections remains a public health priority. Please do your part! If you have any questions or need help accessing PrEP, please call our medical clinic at 865-525-1540 or click here to learn more.

World Hepatitis Day

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis C is one of the most common conditions associated with substance use disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 300 million people in the world are infected with hepatitis and are completely unaware, and the rates of hepatitis in East Tennessee have dramatically risen following the opioid epidemic.

The world Hepatitis Day theme for 2020 is to “find the missing millions” with the hope to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. If you have one minute to spare, the World Hepatitis Day website have 4 simple options to get involved in ending hepatitis.

If you or someone you know does not know their hepatitis status and would like to be tested or is known to be positive and would like to be referred for treatment, please contact us and we will try to connect you with services.


This month we would like to highlight the smartphone app NalaxoFind. NaloxoFind lets users register as a naloxone (Narcan) carrier or use the app to find naloxone carriers in an emergency, while waiting for emergency services to arrive. If a carrier is nearby they will be alerted when a naloxone request is made. The app allows carriers to quickly see where the emergency is and get directions using their smartphone.

Trained naloxone carriers can customize their response radius. For instance, if you are a naloxone carrier, you can set your app to only alert you for emergencies within your neighborhood. NaloxoFind can be found in the App Store and Google Play store.

June is PTSD Awareness Month

From the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs: Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available. Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.

PTSD Coach is a free, easy-to-use mobile application. It was developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2011. It is a convenient way to learn about the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can also learn about coping skills and PTSD treatments. Research studies have shown that PTSD Coach can reduce PTSD symptoms, especially when used as part of therapy. The app may also help with symptoms of depression. PTSD Coach is not meant to replace professional care.

More information about the PTSD Coach app can be found here:

June is Men’s Health Month

According to the U.S. Department of Health, men die 5 years younger than women, and die at higher rates from 9 of the top 10 causes of death, including from substance use disorders and overdoses. This is frequently due to men placing their own health on a “back burner.”

The Men’s Health Network recommends encouraging the men in your life to get a physical this June and get physical by exercising regularly.

Find out more and sign up for a healthy “e-male” newsletter at