400+ US counties at high risk for opioid overdose deaths

Residents in 412 U.S. counties are twice as likely as residents in other counties to be at high risk for opioid overdose deaths, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers examined opioid overdose mortality rates in 3,142 U.S. counties between January 2015 and December 2017. They defined high-risk opioid overdose counties as those with overdose deaths above the national rate and with availability of providers to deliver opioid use disorder medications below the national rate.

They identified 412 high-risk counties with both high opioid overdose death rates and low treatment capacity and 751 counties with a high opioid overdose death rate.

The high-risk counties were in North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida.

The study also revealed that 1,457 counties did not have a publicly available provider of medication to treat opioid use disorder.

"We need more strategies to augment and increase the primary care provider workforce in those high-risk counties, people who are willing and able to provide opioid use disorder treatments," said Rebecca Haffajee, PhD, lead study author and assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.

More articles on opioids:
Addressing the national opioid epidemic through care collaboration
Many surgeons overprescribed opioids as overdose rates soared, KHN analysis finds
FDA proposes more stringent rules for opioid approval: 4 things to know

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