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CDC: Rate of Drug Overdose Death Higher in Rural Areas Than Urban

While the number of people dying from drug overdose has been consistently higher in metropolitan areas, the rate of death in rural areas – that is, the number of deaths per 100,000 people – surpassed urban areas in 2015.  In the latest release from its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Rural Health Series, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) find encouraging data showing a decline in illicit drug use by youth and a lower prevalence of illicit drug use disorders in rural areas from 2012-2014.  But they also call the rate of death from illicit drug use “a critical and complicated public health challenge” and prompt greater understanding of the differences between rural and urban areas in order to identify, monitor, and prioritize responses. “Consideration of where persons live and where they die from overdose could enhance specific interventions, such as training on naloxone administration or rescue breathing…and facilitating better access to medication-assisted treatment with methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone could benefit communities with high opioid use disorder rates.”