Dozens of counties in the Midwest and South are at the highest risk for opioid deaths in the United States, say University of Michigan researchers.
In a study of more than 3,000 counties across the U.S., the researchers found that residents of 412 counties are at least twice as likely to be at high risk for opioid overdose deaths and to lack providers who can deliver medications to treat opioid use disorder.
States with among the most high-risk counties include: North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida.
The study suggests strategies for increasing treatment for opioid addiction, including by increasing the number of primary care clinicians capable of providing medications as well as improving employment opportunities in those communities.
“We hope policymakers can use this information to funnel additional money and resources to specific counties within their states,” said lead author Dr. Rebecca Haffajee, assistant professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “We need more strategies to augment and increase the primary care provider workforce in those high-risk counties, people who are willing and able to provide opioid use disorder treatments.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on July 19