It is well known that the US currently faces an opioid epidemic and according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since 1999 the rate of overdose death related to opioid, including both heroin and prescription drugs, has quadrupled. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use in which the incidence of heroin abuse was 19 times higher among individual who reported prior use of non-medical pain reliever use compared to those who did not. In addition to the negative health effects the epidemic has also had economic impacts on the health care system with nearly 55 billion dollars being spent a year on health and social cost related to prescription opioid abuse . For these reasons many states have cracked down on prescribing opioids and one might see the importance in using geographic information system (GIS) to map out hotspots of opioid prescription rates so they can possibly be reduced.
Check out this map that shows the rate of opioid prescription by county for the year of 2016. From the map we can see many counties within various southern states have higher rates indicated by the dark brown shading.
By Julia Watson