Opioid mortality in rural communities

  • Jonathan Kopel

Abstract

Opioid mortality has become a significant medical and economic burden in the United
States, accounting for over 66.3% of drug-related overdoses and $78 billion dollars in health
care costs. The current US “opioid crisis” has continued to grow with an estimated 2.5 million
patients being diagnosed with opioid use disorders in 2016. In response, policy makers and
government agencies have initiated several programs to mitigate the adverse effects of opioids
through expanding access and delivery of evidenced-based treatment and rehabilitation
programs. Rural communities remain significant risk factors for opioid overdose and mortality
in areas lacking access to opioid therapy. Despite measures to provide access to rehabilitation
and medical therapy, the opioid-related mortality rate in rural areas has increased significantly
due to greater opioid prescriptions in these areas, an out-migration of young adults, greater
rural social and kinship network connections, and economic stressors. However, limited
opioid-related mortality data in rural regions, such as West Texas, impede further analysis
and investigation into effective programs for preventing and treating opioid overdoses in these
communities.

Published
2019-11-03
How to Cite
Kopel , J. (2019). Opioid mortality in rural communities. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles, 7(31), 59-62. https://doi.org/10.12746/swrccc.v7i31.601