Opioid treatment rate higher for urban dwellers; rural death rates higher

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Urban residents of Connecticut were more likely to be admitted to treatment programs for opioid abuse funded or operated by the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, but rural areas had the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths.

The greatest number of admissions come from Connecticut’s largest cities. The data shows that the opioid epidemic is affecting communities all across the state regardless of income or socioeconomic status.

In 2012, slightly more than 21,000 patients were admitted for treatment by the state. That grew by 30 percent to more than 27,000 in 2015. However, 2016’s admissions figure only outpaced 2015’s by 200.

This year is the first time in the last five years officials have seen the numbers leveling off, said Jim Siemianowski, DMHAS director of quality. “Whether it’s a trend or not, we’re going to be closely monitoring that data to see if it’s something that is continuing.”

This tracks with Trend CT’s previous analysis of overdose deaths in Connecticut. Deaths related to prescription opioids have leveled off while heroin and fentanyl-related deaths have grown dramatically.

The fiscal year admissions data is based on town-level data recently released by the department on individuals whose primary drug at admission was an opioid. Data from non-state funded treatment centers also are included thanks to state law.

Towns with five or fewer admissions were left out of the data set.

Certain areas, such as the towns of New Britain, Plainville, Southington, and Bristol, have seen some very large increases in treatment numbers,

The rate of admissions were consistent in Connecticut towns year over year. Towns classified by the Census as urban collectively had a higher median rate of admissions per 1,000 residents.

Rural towns, even though they have lower populations, tended to trail in rates of admissions. Towns with a mix of urban and rural areas, like suburbs, usually ranked lowest.

However, Canaan had a high rate of admissions to clinics at 14 per 1,000 residents (158 total since 2012). Voluntown and Sprague had moderate rates of 3 and 7, respectively.

North Canaan had fewer than five admissions since 2012, though the community has had four opioid-related overdose deaths in that time.

The Department of Public Health says it has worked to make treatment available throughout the state. “People may have to travel but those programs are available to anyone,” said Siemianowski.

Officials noticed an increase in the number of people using opiates in Torrington several years back so Hartford Dispensary opened a clinic in that area to broaden coverage in that area of the state, said Siemianowski.

The department is also working to make Buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction, more accessible in outpatient clinics across the state. Last year, legislation was passed that allowed pharmacists to prescribe overdose antidote Narcan after getting certified.

When looking at opioid-related deaths, rates in rural areas were much higher compared to those in urban and mixed areas.

Where they died
Locations of overdose deaths since 2012
Location Overdose deaths
Different town of death than residence 595
Out of town resident, local death 72
Same town of death as residence 1826
Town of death unknown 1
Unknown residence 78
Medical Examiner’s Office

North Canaan, Canaan, Voluntown and Sprague had the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths, though the total numbers actually ranged only between 1 and 4. Small populations can yield misleading rates.

In all areas, more than half of those residents who died suffered overdoses in their homes. Otherwise, about 35 percent died in hospitals. Between 5 and 12 percent died in other locations.

The majority of those who died did so in the town where they lived.

Check the table below to see how the treatment rate has changed over time town by town.

Check our work: The GitHub repository containing our work is available here. We encourage you to look over our calculations and expand upon our analysis.

What do you think?

  • ctyankee22

    Interesting… The Democrats compalin
    that opioids are an epidemic,

    {photo: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka}

    yet only the Republican candidate wants
    to controll the inflow of illegal drugs.