Drug Overdose Death Rates in Rural Areas Exceed Those in Cities

A new government report finds drug overdose death rates are now higher in rural areas of the United States than in urban areas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found drug overdose death rates in 1999 were 6.4 per 100,000 in cities, compared with 4 per 100,000 in rural areas. By 2015, the rate was 17 per 100,000 in rural areas and 16.2 per 100,000 in cities, HealthDay reports.

“The drug overdose death rate in rural areas is higher than in urban areas,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, said in a news release. “We need to understand why this is happening so that our work with states and communities can help stop illicit drug use and overdose deaths in America.”

Most overdose deaths occurred in homes, where rescue efforts may fall to relatives who have limited knowledge of or access to life-saving treatment and overdose follow-up care, the CDC noted.

How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives

A variety of drugs and drug combinations carry the risk of fatal overdose. Emergency protocol for any suspected overdose includes calling 911. However, in the case of opioids, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life.