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Where is Opioid Addiction Concentrated the Most?

By: Fei Guo ’21

BIPP Survey Research Laboratory Intern

The opioid crisis is generally the misuse of a broad category of opioid-related substances, including heroin and fentanyl. Opioid addiction is a serious threat to national public health and social system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed, “from 1999-2017, almost 450,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids.”

Some articles quite often associated opioid addiction with low-income communities, given the limited access to quality health and social assistance. Increasing economic challenges,  psychological stress, and prior criminal activity can also contribute to a higher vulnerability to opioids. 

Bucknell Institute of Public Policy analyzed people’s opinions on the socioeconomic and geographic disparity of opioid addiction. The survey data was collected through a nationally representative survey conducted by YouGov.

It was found that only 17.24% of respondents agreed that opioid addiction was primarily a problem experienced by low-income individuals. More than half (53.2%) of respondents to some extent disagreed. Although there might be some correlation between low socioeconomic status and opioid abuse, according to the result, people believed that the opioid addiction problem greatly affected higher-income individuals as well.

It also showed that only 17.74% of respondents believed opioid addiction was a problem primarily experienced in urban communities, with 46.8% disagreed. Residents in rural areas, in general, have fewer community health centers and authorized doctors.

Since this is such a universal problem, how can we tackle it with respect to the constraints people are facing? Furthermore, in recent years, drug addiction is becoming more and more fatal, because more dangerous alternatives are emerging in the market. More specific and effective solutions are needed for individuals with different living circumstances to combat the problem.

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