States With the Biggest Drug Overdose Problem

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths caused by drug overdose have hit an all-time high in the United States, jumping 7 percent in just one year and killing over 40,000 Americans in 2014.

The problem can largely be attributed to the rapid rise in the abuse of opioids, including both prescription pain relievers and heroin.

The below visualization shows drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 people in counties across the U.S. States with the highest concentrations of overdoses include: Kentucky, West Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Historically, large metropolitan areas have the highest rates of drug overdoses, however, that is no longer the case. More deaths from drug overdoses are occurring today in rural and suburban areas.

 

The Appalachian region in particular (including Kentucky and West Virginia) has been stricken with high rates of overdose deaths for over a decade, mostly because of workplace-related injuries that are treated with opioid-based painkillers. New Mexico has experienced high heroin overdose rates since the early 1990s, and the issue continues to worsen.

The drug overdose epidemic is sweeping the nation and tearing communities and families apart. To help Americans understand how drug overdoses are affecting their communities, HealthGrove set out to investigate which states and counties are the most affected by drug overdose. Using the most recent data from the CDC, HealthGrove ranked the percent of state populations that live in counties with high overdose death rates. A high overdose death rate is defined as over 20 deaths per 100,000 people. We've ranked the 20 states with the highest percentage of people living in high overdose counties, and sorted them from lowest to highest. On each slide, we include the relevant state map of drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 people.

Note: The CDC reports drug poisoning deaths in ranges, so the HealthGrove team mapped drug poisoning deaths in relation to population density to rank this list.

#20. North Carolina

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 17.11%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 27.00%

Population: 9,651,380

Number of Counties in State: 100

#19. Ohio

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 17.32%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 15.91%

Population: 11,549,590

Number of Counties in State: 88

#18. Missouri

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 19.05%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 14.78%

Population: 6,007,182

Number of Counties in State: 115

#17. Alaska

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 21.54%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 13.79%

Population: 720,316

Number of Counties in State: 29

#16. Oregon

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 21.68%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 11.11%

Population: 3,868,721

Number of Counties in State: 36

#15. Massachusetts

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 22.73%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 21.43%

Population: 6,605,058

Number of Counties in State: 14

#14. Louisiana

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 25.51%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 12.50%

Population: 4,567,968

Number of Counties in State: 64

#13. Colorado

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 25.76%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 18.75%

Population: 5,119,329

Number of Counties in State: 64

#12. Maryland

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 26.31%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 12.50%

Population: 5,834,299

Number of Counties in State: 24

#11. Tennessee

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 32.00%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 46.32%

Population: 6,402,387

Number of Counties in State: 95

#10. Pennsylvania

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 36.57%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 14.93%

Population: 12,731,381

Number of Counties in State: 67

#9. Kentucky

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 38.71%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 51.67%

Population: 4,361,333

Number of Counties in State: 120

#8. Florida

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 43.40%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 35.82%

Population: 19,091,156

Number of Counties in State: 67

#7. West Virginia

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 61.53%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 49.09%

Population: 1,853,619

Number of Counties in State: 55

#6. Oklahoma

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 62.73%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 51.95%

Population: 3,785,742

Number of Counties in State: 77

#5. New Mexico

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 63.48%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 63.64%

Population: 2,069,706

Number of Counties in State: 33

#4. Rhode Island

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 75.41%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 40.00%

Population: 1,051,695

Number of Counties in State: 5

#3. Utah

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 78.45%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 58.62%

Population: 2,813,673

Number of Counties in State: 29

#2. Arizona

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 84.43%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 46.67%

Population: 6,479,703

Number of Counties in State: 15

#1. Nevada

 

Percent of Population Living in Counties with High Overdose Death Rates: 91.22%

Percent of Counties With High Overdose Rates: 41.18%

Population: 2,730,066

Number of Counties in State: 17

Overview of States With the Worst Overdose Problem

 
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