A Geographical Look at the Opioid Crisis

Jim Giammatteo
4 min readJul 13, 2017

Let’s start out with a quote from The Guardian

Overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes or guns (as reported in this blog–and experts say the crisis hasn’t yet peaked. Data reveals how a local problem became a national epidemic.

This is not a problem restricted to a particular state, or city, or neighborhood. As the map from The Guardian’s site below shows, the problem is nationwide.

To put it in even better perspective, let’s look at more of what The Guardian has to say:

New England is grappling with a more recent scourge. Since 2013, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other north-eastern states have seen large spikes in overdose deaths attributed to increasing heroin use and the introduction of a new deadly drug: fentanyl.Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, first appeared in the region around 2012, making its way down from Canada. Suppliers often cut the drug into heroin or other substances before selling it to users who may not know exactly what they’re buying. Because of its strength — and users’ unfamiliarity with it — fentanyl has proven particularly deadly.New Hampshire reported a sharp rise in fentanyl-related deaths between 2013 and 2014. Since then, every New England state has reported its own fentanyl crisis. According to the Massachusetts department of public health, fentanyl was present in more than half of the 1,319 opioid-related deaths in the state last year.

Even in states where progress was showing initially, the surge has resumed. In Florida, whose crackdown on the supply side (the “pill mills” and other resources), overdose deaths began to decline, but rose again sharply. Perhaps because Florida used money budgeted for treatment options to spend on supply crackdown. This is an issue that demands focus, an aggressive attack from all fronts.

And if the opioid painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin weren’t enough. Fentanyl and worse has crept into the mix, some of it surreptitiously.

Fentanyl has cropped up in previously unseen form: fake Xanax pills. The “death pills”, as they have become known, have also been found in California, Indiana and beyond.

The worst part is that people may not know what they’re buying. They may set out to buy a few Oxycontin pills and, instead, get something laced with fentanyl.

The map below shows a state-by-state look at how they’ve been affected as of a few years ago, but the map doesn’t tell it all. According to reports, an updated map would show that many of those states, like California, Montana, and Texas, which stood strong against the initial surge, are now experiencing the same problems.

Fentanyl, the drug involved in the death of musician Prince, is skyrocketing in distribution and use in Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere according to a report by the CDC. In Minnesota it climbed 73 percent from 2014 to 2015.

And from The White House Archives

“The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic continues to devastate communities and families across the country,” Michael Botticelli, the former White House Director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement last year.

But we didn’t need him to tell us that, all we had to do was look at the statistics. The rise in death from drug overdoses doesn’t say it all, but it says a lot.

According to the CDC, Ohio and Florida have been hit hardest by the fentanyl epidemic, but that doesn’t mean that other states are free from death. As reported before, 2017 is expected to bring approximately 69,0000 deaths.

And like the much quoted saying about the weather — if you don’t like it wait a few minutes — unfortunately a similar saying would apply here. Take a look at the two maps below. The first shows fentanyl penetration in 2001, and the second in 2015.

And statistics from earlier this year show that the distribution and the deaths are continuing to spread rapidly.

This is not a problem that will disappear on its own. It’s going to take a national effort, by everyone. At Into Action Recovery Centers we’re trying to do our part. Not just by offering treatment, which is a mandatory step, but by educating the community and others to let them know of the dangers.

Recently (June 2017) fentanyl was found in Houston in a drug bust. It’s no surprise as it never was a question of if it would get here, just when. But there’s a lot we can do to help.

We can inform the public of the dangers and of what they should do if they know of someone who is dependent or addicted. The first step should always be to seek help, and we’re here to help you — 24/7.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need help, give us a call. We have medically-trained staff ready to lend a hand.

Fill out a confidential inquiry form, and our knowledgeable staff will get back to you or call to arrange a confidential consultation: (844) 694–3576