New Views of America's Opioid Epidemic from the Economist

This month (March 2017), the Economist published some horrifying graphics illustrating the growth of the opioid crisis in the US.  Its not just that the number of overdose deaths are growing at a torrid rate, but its the concentration of the problem that is so striking.  

During the first three quarters of 2016, opioid overdose deaths in Maryland increased by over 60% from the prior year.  The numbers in the charts below are from years through 2015.  Once 2016 numbers are published, these charts will only be more dramatic.  The human cost to this epidemic is increasing at an impossible rate.

US Overdose Deaths

Prescription overdoses are growing at a consistent rate, but the rate of growth of heroin and fentanyl deaths are growing at a rate that looks exponential.  

Concentration of Opioid Deaths by US County

As you can see from the chart above, there are plenty of places in the US where opioid death rate is relatively low.  On the other hand, areas like West Virginia and New Hampshire are experiencing opioid overdose deaths at more than 10x the national average.  

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