Communities Concerned About Drug Addiction After Fatal Overdoses

Drug addiction is nothing new, nor is the negative public perception of it. Now, new research shows that Americans have growing concern about drug addiction in their communities, no matter their physical location.

This comes from a recent Pew Research Center survey comparing the number and rate of fatal drug overdoses with community perceptions. Whether citizens live in urban, rural, or suburban areas, they’re growing more concerned about the state of drugs in society.

Nearly Nine in 10 Americans See Drug Addiction in Their Communities

Researchers surveyed 6,251 adults and about 90 percent of Americans living in a rural area report drug addiction as a problem in their community. About 87 percent in urban areas and 86 percent in suburban areas reported the same.

In urban areas, 50 percent of respondents said that drug addiction was a major problem and 46 percent said the same in rural areas. Suburban areas reported the lowest numbers with 35 percent saying it was a major problem, but 52 percent said it was a minor problem.

Fatalities from drug addiction is a growing concern with more than 63,600 deaths from drug overdose in 2016. This is a 21 percent increase from the prior year and almost double the amount from a decade earlier.

Ironically, the largest number of drug overdose deaths in 2016 was highest in suburban areas. “They also had the highest age-adjusted rate of deadly overdoses – a metric that controls for differences in population size and average age across the three community types,” the study reported. “The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in suburban counties was 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2016, compared with 18.7 per 100,000 in rural counties and 18.5 per 100,000 in urban counties.”

Opioids Become of Greater Concern

Opioids are primary culprits of drug addiction and overdoses in the United States. This includes illegal street drugs such as heroin and legal drugs like prescription painkillers. About two-thirds of deadly overdoses in 2016 were the result of opioid use.

Though suburban areas had the largest number of deadly overdoses due to opioids, the CDC reported an increase in fatal overdoses in all communities, from rural to urban. They’re up 25 percent from the previous years.

Opioid usage has become a widespread epidemic in the United States. Last year, President Trump declared opioid use a national public health emergency, and this research only confirms the drug use problem throughout the nation.

Black Urban Men Show Highest Increase for Overdose Deaths

While the research showed an increase in fatalities from drug overdose in white, black, and Hispanic races, the highest jump in fatalities was among African American men who live in urban areas. The overdose death rate for this group was 40 percent higher in 2016 than it was in 2015.

About half of African American citizens also reported that drug addiction was a major problem in their communities, along with 45 percent of Hispanics, and 40 percent of whites. About 80 percent of all three races said they believe drug addiction is a minor problem in their communities.

African American males do not make up the highest sampling of deaths due to overdose, however:

“Despite the sharp year-over-year increase among blacks, whites continue to have a substantially higher overall drug overdose death rate (25.3 per 100,000) than both blacks (17.1 per 100,000) and Hispanics (9.5 per 100,000).”

Addiction Treatment Centers Grow

As a result of the growing problem with drug addiction and overdose, addiction treatment centers have become busier. This is true for both physical addiction recovery centers and digital centers. Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever for treatment centers to both market their services as well as reach more people with online addiction recovery.

More and more people are in need of treatment recovery with the opioid epidemic on the rise. These new findings show that addiction and fatal overdoses know no race or location. Addiction is a life-changing condition, and if not handled, it could be life-ending.