The underlying reasons behind the unprecedented increase of the mortality rates due to the opioid epidemics in the United States are still not fully uncovered. Most efforts have been focused on targeting opioids, but there is little information about vulnerable populations at high risk of opioid abuse and death. In this study, we used data from the Ohio Department of Health for deaths caused by prescription opioids from 2010–2017 to analyze the spatiotemporal dynamics of the opioid overdose epidemic. Our results showed a rapid increase in prescription opioid death rates among the white male population aged 30–39 but also a considerable increase among the black male population with an exponential growth trend. Our geospatial analysis suggests that the increasing rates of the opioid overdose epidemic in Ohio were driven by the epidemic hotspot areas. Our findings highlight the relevance of prioritizing public health measures targeting specific locations and vulnerable populations to mitigate the current opioids crisis.
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