Opioid prescriptions in South Dakota during 2015

The July report from the state Health Department offers a chart that portrays, county by county, the levels of opioid pain-killers prescribed in South Dakota during 2015.

A handful of counties top the list. They are Haakon, Mellette, Tripp, Gregory and Yankton. Next highest are the counties of Fall River, Hughes, Walworth, Beadle, Hutchinson and Union.

The page also carries a U.S. map and a link to a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzing opioids prescribed through retail outlets for 2006 through 2015.

The federal report notes: “The amount of opioids prescribed in the United States peaked at 782 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per capita in 2010 and then decreased to 640 MME per capita in 2015. Despite significant decreases, the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 remained approximately three times as high as in 1999 and varied substantially across the country.”

The federal report also said: “In 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 deaths in the United States, 63.1% of which involved an opioid. Among opioid-related deaths, approximately 15,000 (approximately half) involved a prescription opioid. In addition, an estimated 2.0 million persons in the United States had opioid use disorder (addiction) associated with prescription opioids in 2015. The economic burden of prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence is estimated to be $78.5 billion each year in the United States.”

The national commission assigned by President Trump to study opioid abuse issued recommendations recently. At the top of its list, the commission called for the president to declare a national emergency. On Tuesday, he declined to do that.