Rural America in Crisis: The Changing Opioid Overdose Epidemic

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-10696 size-full" src="" alt=" Aerial view of the Poconos landscape, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, USA. "Width =" 930 "height =" 500 "/>

In America, 15 out of 100 people live in a rural area. I loved growing up in a rural community, where there were no lights out, everyone knew their neighbors and the doors were always open. But, my years of public health work have taught me that rural areas are not so different from urban areas when it comes to the devastating impact of the epidemic. ; opioids.

The rate of drug overdose deaths in rural areas has exceeded rates in urban areas, and it is a huge public health problem. Understanding how rural areas are different with respect to drug use and overdose deaths, including opioids, can help public health professionals identify, monitor and prioritize their response to this epidemic.

An Epidemic – Three Waves

Drug overdoses in the United States have now overtaken other leading causes of death such as AIDS or motor vehicle collisions, even when they were at their highest level.

The opioid overdose epidemic came in three waves: <img class="alignright wp-image-10695 size-full" src="" alt=" Rural: Areas with low population, where there is a lot of space between residences. Urban: Refers to areas such as cities, with a high population and population density. "Width =" 312 "height =" 135 "/>

Increase in the number of prescription opioid deaths starting in 1999
Increase in heroin-related deaths starting in 2010
Since 2013, we have seen more deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl manufactured illegally.

The CDC tracks how these waves of overdose deaths affect rural and urban areas of the country to help states and public health departments identify, monitor, and prioritize personalized prevention responses.

Rural Communities at Risk

Mortality rates for unintentional injuries such as overdoses, falls and road accidents are about 50% higher in rural areas than in urban areas. In general, people living in rural areas of the United States tend to be older, poorer and sicker than those living in urban areas. Differences in socio-economic factors, health-related behaviors, and access to health services contribute to these differences. From 1999 to 2015, opiate mortality rates in rural areas quadrupled among 18-25 year olds and tripled among women.

Preventing Overdose Deaths in Rural America

Overdose deaths can be prevented by improving public health programs. We can start fighting the opioid overdose epidemic and save lives in:

Understanding the Differences in the Burden and Context of Drug Use, Drug-Related Disorders, and Overdose Deaths, and Identifying How to Adapt Prevention Efforts to Situations between rural and urban areas.
Health Care Teachers on safer opioid prescribing practices and on how to treat patients with opioid use disorder (addiction) .
Considering non-opioid pain treatment options such as exercise and physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or more effective pain medications (such as acetaminophen, l & rdquo; # 39; ibuprofen and naproxen). Some of these options can actually work better and have fewer risks and side effects than opioids.
Supporting training and access to naloxone a drug that can quickly stop an overdose of opioids in high-risk individuals, families, emergency responders and the forces of the order.
Improve access to treatment for disorders related to the use of opioids (drug addiction) through drug treatments or comprehensive services to reduce infections associated with the drug. Injecting drugs, such as HIV or hepatitis C.
Working with Public Safety to share data, scale up evidence-based strategies, and reduce the supply of illicit drugs.

The drug overdose landscape in America is changing and affecting everyone, no matter where they live. As the epidemic continues to evolve and change, we need to understand the circumstances that contribute to opiate-related deaths and remain vigilant in preventing overdoses in our communities. The more we understand this drug epidemic, the better we will all be ready to stop and save lives.

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