Homeless & Addicted, part two

Vicodin. OxyContin. Percocet. Morphine. Codeine. In the 1990's, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers, resulting in health care providers prescribing them at greater rates. That reassurance, it turns out, was not the case.

Rises in opioid overdose deaths can be outlined in three distinct waves:

  1. 1990's with increased prescribing of natural and semi-synthetic opioids as well as methadone
  2. 2010 with rapid increases in overdoses involving heroin
  3. 2013 with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids including fentanyl



According to HHS, an estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.


The states with the highest rate of opioid prescriptions in 2016 were:

  • Alabama, 121 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Arkansas, with 114 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Mississippi, with 105 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Tennessee, with 107 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Louisiana, with 98 prescriptions per 100 persons

The overall prescribing rate was 66 prescriptions per 100 persons.


The counties/cities with the highest opioid prescription rates in 2016 were:

  • Norton, VA, with 470 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Martinsville, VA, with 399 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Galax, VA, with 394 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Emporia, VA, with 283 prescriptions per 100 persons
  • Franklin City, VA, with 268 prescriptions per 100 persons

The next 10 counties/cities with the highest opioid prescription rates averaged 230 prescriptions per 100 persons, and were concentrated in Kentucky, Virginia, and Illinois.


In 2017, the American Medical Association declared their full support for the legalization to safe injection facilities (SIFs). They pointed to findings that SIFs lead to fewer overdose deaths, reduced transmission of infectious disease associated with injection, and promote long-term treatment and rehabilitation.


SIFs also greatly reduce the public disposal of syringes.


At the beginning of 2009, there were 92 facilities operating in 61 countries around the world.

As of April 2018, the United States still has no legal Safe Injection Facilities.