Oct. 11, 2016 11:22 am

Visualizing Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic

Nearly 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Reinvestment Fund's PolicyMap took a look at data surrounding the last ten years of overdoses in the U.S., honing in on how the epidemic has spread across Pennsylvania.

During a public health crisis such as opioid crisis, says guest columnist Erin Davison, every service offered can be a key step in preventing more deaths.

(Photo by Flickr user Terry Minton, used under a Creative Commons license)

Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic can be visualized for real every day on the streets of our urban centers. Seeing the data mapped out over a ten-year time span, though, adds an extra sense of urgency.

Last month, Reinvestment Fund‘s PolicyMap began working with the United States Department of Agriculture on an initiative that aims to alleviate the epidemic in rural communities by using transitional housing assets for people recovering from opioid abuse.

For Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week late last month, PolicyMap published a post on their site that further examines overdoses and treatment services in Pennsylvania using data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

In addition to a data tool showing estimated number of deaths from drug overdose in 2014, the post includes screenshots of how quickly the epidemic has spread over the past ten years. But it’s not spreading like a rash — it’s spreading seemingly arbitrarily.

(Courtesy photo)

The epidemic in 2005. (Courtesy photo)

“The most dramatic geographic spread in the overdose epidemic was observed between 2010 and 2014, showing that this issue has exploded in the last 5 years and is moving quickly,” the post reads. “These maps also show that this epidemic is not isolated to specific geographies.”


The epidemic in 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Check out PolicyMap’s post for more information.

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