The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a first-of-its-kind interactive data tool that provides an in-depth, county-by-county look at the impact of the opioid epidemic across the United States.
The National Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool allows you to correlate opioid abuse and deaths to a range of socioeconomic factors, including unemployment, poverty, disabilities and education. Users can compare county-level information to the rest of their state, as well as the nation, and see how data has changed over time. Data covers a 10-year time period, 2007 through 2017.
The tool is a joint research effort between the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago and the USDA’s Rural Development office.
“While a national challenge, much of the solution lies at the local level,” said Dan Gaylin, CEO of NORC. “This work with the USDA lets us bring the data visualization capacity of NORC to the service of people across the nation, providing them with important information about the extent of the opioid challenge in their own county and how it compares with the rest of the nation.”
The tool will help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the epidemic, said Anne Hazlett, USDA assistant to the secretary for Rural Development.
“Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery,” said Hazlett.
Prescription and illicit opioids killed more than 42,000 Americans in 2016, more than five times the number in 1999. The toll of the epidemic is so great that it contributed to the first decline in U.S. life expectancy since 1993, according to opioid overuse data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Released Oct. 4, the assessment tool is based on a smaller pilot, the Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool, a project between NORC and the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The tool is the latest USDA resource available to help rural communities address the opioid crisis. Earlier this year, the agency released its Opioid Misuse in Rural America website.
Victoria Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.