Drug-related deaths have increased twice as fast in rural Australia because of poor access to drug-treatment services.
Researchers at the University of New England have put together a list of actions policy-makers can take to get ahead of the trend.
Every year between 200,000 and 500,000 people go without help for drug and alcohol use, Rural criminology senior lecturer Dr Katinka van de Ven said.
"It comes down to policy, social, physical and economic conditions, one of the things that became apparent was the lack of accessibility to drug and alcohol treatment programs so people have to travel," she said.
Even if there are treatment facilities in the local community, often there's a lack of anonymity and people don't feel comfortable accessing it.Dr Katinka van de Ven
"Even if there are treatment facilities in the local community, often there's a lack of anonymity and people don't feel comfortable accessing it.
"There's difficulty attracting and retaining high quality drug and alcohol workers who specialise in the area as well."
Rural Australians are higher consumers of the drug ice, cannabis and prescription opioids oxycodone and fentanyl.
They're also more likely than their city counterparts to drink alcohol at risky levels, Glen Innes ranked fourth in the state, a Mitchell Institute Report reveals.
The sad reality is that those drug-users are more likely to die as a result.
Drug-related deaths are up 41 per cent in rural Australia since 2008, compared to the cities where numbers have grown by just 16 per cent.
The loss of manufacturing industries has created job stress that leads to excessive alcohol or drug use in rural areas.
That, coupled with a lack of infrastructure, public transport, limited harm reduction schemes and treatment programs has impacted survival rates for those in the country.
Harm reduction policy is one way communities can begin to tackle the problem, but Dr van de Van doesn't expect rural communities to take to the ideas straight away.
"It's a difficult one because stigma definitely plays a role, there would need to be a shift in people's attitudes to those who experience harm from their alcohol and other drug use."
Access to treatment services are crucial to change the trend, and where distance makes service delivery tough - telehealth could be lifesaver but there are still services that have to be delivered face-to-face.