Thursday, January 21, 2016

Heroin and opioid overdoses on the rise everywhere, but especially in rural places

Haeyoun Park and Matthew Bloch reported yesterday in the New York Times on the rise in drug overdoses in the United States, mapping the overdoses per capita at the county level for each year from 2003 up through 2014.  Among other facts, they note:
Some of the largest concentrations of overdose deaths were in Appalachia and the Southwest, according to new county-level estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014: 47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day. 
* * * 
Drug overdoses cut across rural-urban boundaries. In fact, death rates from overdoses in rural areas now outpace the rate in large metropolitan areas, which historically had higher rates.
Sadly, I see that the death rate in my home county, Newton County, Arkansas, is in the highest range, 20 per 100,000, up from much lower levels in 2003. 

New Hampshire, Appalachia, and New Mexico are three states/regions that receive particular attention in the story, New Hampshire because the drug epidemic there has become a top campaign issue.  A 2008 story about heroin and opioid addiction, across multiple generations within New Mexico families, is here.  A 2011 blog post about Oxycontin addiction in Appalachia is here.   

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