Four Alabama cities rank among the top 15 cities with the highest rate of opioid abuse in the U.S. The list was compiled by health care information company Castlight Health, which used anonymous data on medical and pharmacy claims to determine which parts of the U.S. were hardest hit by the opioid crisis. The results shed a grim light on Alabama, one of the states where physicians aren’t required to check a database before writing a prescription for opioids, and other portions of the South.
Nearly a third of all opioid prescriptions are abused, which translates to higher health costs for employers. Addicts ring in an average of $19,450 in health costs per year compared to non-addicts, who average $10,853 annually. The human cost of addiction is even more staggering. More than 183,000 people in the U.S. have died from prescription overdoses since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Opioid abusers are more likely to live in lower-income areas and the rural South, according to Castlight Health’s data. Those who abuse are more likely to be baby boomers than millennial. States with legal medical marijuana also had lower rates of abuse compared to states that outlaw it.
The top 15 cities that abuse the most opioids are:
- Odessa, Texas, where eight percent of people who receive opioids are misusing them, according to Castlight Health’s analysis.
- Terre Haute, Indiana, the only non-Southern town on the list, where 107 doses of the opioid antidote naloxone were administered in 2016.
- Amarillo, Texas, where 47 percent of the opioids prescribed in the city are abused.
- Jacksonville, North Carolina, home of the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Veterans are 10 times more likely than civilians to abuse opioids, according to Veteran Affairs, in part because the VA over-prescribes painkillers for soldiers with injuries and PTSD.
- Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home to the University of Alabama, where 8.2 percent of opioid prescriptions are being misused.
- Texarkana, Texas-Arkansas, where nearly half of all opioid prescriptions are being abused.
- Johnson City, Tennessee, part of the Tri Cities region with Kingsport and Bristol, where 47 percent of all prescriptions for opioids are eventually abused.
- Montgomery, Alabama, the state’s capital, where there are 1.2 opioid prescriptions for every resident.
- Gadsden, Alabama, with a population of just under 37,000, is also where 48 percent of all opioid prescriptions are abused.
- Pensacola, Florida, a popular beach resort where nearly 50,000 people are abusing opioids.
- Hickory, North Carolina, a town of 40,000, that has taken measures to link mental health with substance abuse treatment.
- Enid, Oklahoma, home to a U.S. Air Force base, has the fourth-highest rate of prescription opioid abuse in the U.S.
- Panama City, Florida, another Gulf Coast beach town, has the third highest rate of opioid abuse, leading to an increase in heroin overdoses in the area.
- Anniston, Alabama, the state’s highest ranking opioid abuser, is also the second-highest abuser of prescription opioids in the country.
- Wilmington, North Carolina, has the highest rate of opioid abuse, where more than half of the opioid prescriptions that are filled – 54 percent – are abused, according to Castlight Health’s analysis.
Source: Culture Cheat Sheet