© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Rural Areas Hit Hardest By Opioid Epidemic


The opioid epidemic has hit rural areas like Morton County, Kansas harder than other areas, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the staff of the tiny Morton County Hospital in southwest Kansas has gotten good at identifying repeat customers: people who regularly show up looking for opioid pain medicines.

The CDC released a county-by-county study last month that shows the opioid epidemic has hit rural areas like Morton County the hardest.

In 2015, Morton County had the highest MME in Kansas or Missouri. MME is morphine milligram equivalent – which is the count of how many opioid prescriptions are filled within a county and how concentrated those prescriptions are.

Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The most opioid-saturated counties were in the northwest, southwest and southeast corners of the state.

Medical professionals and addiction specialists offered some reasons why rural areas tend to have the highest rates – older populations, physical jobs more prone to workplace injuries, and fewer alternatives for pain relief, such as physical therapy, acupuncture and surgery.