Sunday, September 23, 2007

The latest on the tragic tale of Oxycontin in rural America

Oxycontin and other opioid analgesics have been making news in relation to rural America for several years now, and a few states have responded (or attempted to) to the problem. This story from the Daily Yonder summarizes the most recent, devastating statistics on deaths caused by overdoses of Oxycontin (and related drugs) not only in Appalachia, with which the drug has been most closely associated, but also with rural parts of New England and elsewhere in the South.

But why is this happening mostly in rural America? A Maine reporter quoted in the Daily Yonder speculated: “Maine's rural nature and relatively homogenous culture make residents more susceptible to prescription drug addictions.” He concluded that "tight-knit, static communities make it easy for prescription drugs to change hands between friends and relatives.” But he also observed that some places are at greater risk than others, noting in particular a county "positioned along common routes for drug trafficking between New York and the Downeast portion of the state.” I am not sure I am entirely convinced by this speculation, though it rings at least partly true.

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