Data Show Southwest Virginia Hard Hit by Opioid Crisis

Opioids, prescription medications that relieve pain when taken as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and addiction if abused. Over the past decade, the increase in non-medical use and abuse of prescription opioids has been so sharp the trend is considered an epidemic. Across the nation, rural communities are most likely to experience opioid abuse. Using data from Virginia’s All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), VHHA has mapped the number of opioid prescription claims to the county in which they were prescribed. Since the APCD does not have Medicare beneficiary data as yet, VHHA used data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to map opioid prescription locations for those 65 and older. The chart labeled Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of APCD data based on the overall percent of opioid prescription claims. The chart labeled Figure 2 illustrates the Medicare opioid prescription percentage. Both data sets are from 2013 – the corresponding percentages were calculated by using the total number of opioid claims over total number of pharmacy claims. As shown on both heat maps, opioid use in Virginia is similar to other states. The highest opioid prescriptions rates occur in rural areas, with the highest concentration in Southwest Virginia. Based on CMS data, the average rate for opioid claims in Virginia is 5.27 percent while the national average is 5.32 percent. (1/29)

Figure 1



Figure 2

1-29 no 2