Scientists use Google search to 'predict' heroin overdoses

Scientists based in California have created a model that uses Google searches to predict where potential heroin overdoses will occur, according to Quartz.

Their research was published in Scientific American Dec. 7, and used data from nine U.S. metropolitan areas where people searched for opioids on Google from 2004 to 2011. By using this Google data paired with heroin-related emergency department visits, the model was able to guess where an overdose might happen.

The digital model searched terms included Avinza, Brown Sugar, China White, Codeine, Kadian, Methadone and Oxymorphone, which explained 72 percent of heroin-related hospital visits. Scientists found a higher number of keyword searches was linked to more overdoses.

The current model needs further developing to distinguish the slang of  "brown sugar" for heroin from the common sweetener.

More articles on opioids:

Life insurers declining coverage for those who purchase naloxone
Missouri hospital physicians urged to limit opioid prescriptions
FDA opioid-reduction challenge winners announced

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