|Overdose rates (left) are lower in rural Southern counties with more African Americans and higher in counties with more whites (right). (Walsh Center on Rural Health Analysis map; click the image to enlarge it.)|
The lower overdose rate can't be explained by economics or social conditions, so race is the most likely factor, according to Michael Meit, co-director of the Wash Center for Rural Health Analysis, which recently released a map of county-level overdose deaths.
"I do think that the pathway into opioids for many rural communities was prescription drugs," Meit told Marema. "And I think, for whatever reason, the prescription drugs were not marketed towards rural African American populations."