The Changing Geography of the Opioid Crisis


America’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic proportions. Opioids have killed more than 350,000 people since 1999 and nearly 50,000 in 2017 alone.

In contrast to previous deadly drug epidemics like the heroin crisis of the 1970s, which was highly concentrated in cities and urban areas, opioids have affected rural areas the most: Over the past two decades, deaths from opioid overdoses have climbed by more than 700 percent in smaller rural areas, versus less than 400 percent in cities and metropolitan areas.