Painkiller abuse is spreading to new Western states, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The epidemic has been plaguing Southern and Eastern U.S. states and has spread to states like Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Idaho, which now have the nation’s highest rates of prescription drug abuse.
Meanwhile, prescription drug abuse has declined in the South and Appalachia, thanks to state laws, public outreach programs, education, community mobilization, and cracking down on overprescribing doctors. Kentucky, once No. 6 in the SAMHSA report, is now No. 31.
Oregon has now outstripped Kentucky in rates of prescription drug abuse. According to SAMHSA survey from 2010-2011, 6.5 percent of Oregon residents aged 12 and up abuse opioid painkillers. From 2004 to 2011, overdose deaths from opioid painkillers rose 172 percent in Oregon. Opioids were responsible for 7 percent of all Colorado hospital admissions in 2012, nearly triple the rate in 2004.
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