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Counties where the most opioids are dispensed in Arkansas

Written by:
September 22, 2023
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Counties where the most opioids are dispensed in Arkansas

When Purdue Pharma first began sales of OxyContin in the late 1990s, it was advertised as relief for cancer patients and people with chronic pain. Aggressive marketing fueled the drug's popularity, along with that of other opioid pain management drugs on the market. But as the company touted OxyContin to physicians, it downplayed the drug's addictiveness, according to confidential Justice Department reports obtained by news organizations, leading to widespread use that has fueled an opioid epidemic across the U.S.

More than 645,000 people have died from opioid-related overdoses between 1999 and 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Provisional data shows just under 80,000 people died in 2022 alone.

Opioid prescriptions have decreased dramatically over the past decade as physicians and public health officials learned about the dangers of OxyContin and other opioids prescribed for pain management. In 2020, the most recent year with data available, the national opioid dispense rate reached 43.3 per 100 people, the lowest rate ever recorded.

A 2022 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that counties with higher dispensing rates had more cases of opioid misuse and dependence. The study suggested that reducing prescriptions at the local level can lower a community's rate of opioid abuse or misuse.

Other studies, however, have suggested that decreasing prescriptions may have fueled a new phase of the opioid epidemic: the rise of synthetics like fentanyl. In 2020, synthetics accounted for 82% of all opioid deaths.

It's also important to note that, as awareness has grown about the dangers of dispensing opioid prescription painkillers, more health care professionals are also prescribing medications like Suboxone–which contains buprenorphine and naloxone—for the treatment of addiction and opioid use disorders. While Suboxone is also an opioid medication, it works differently than typical opioid painkillers, blocking the effects of more powerful and addictive opioids to deter intentional misuse.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ophelia broke down counties in every state with the highest opioid dispense rates. In the case of a tie, the county with the higher population and higher raw number is ranked higher. Data was available for 98% of counties in the United States. Overall in Arkansas, the opioid dispensing rate was 75.8 per 100 people, compared to 43.3 nationally.

Read the national story for additional historical context and see where other counties outside of Arkansas stand.

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#50. Saline County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 38.3 per 100 people
--- 49.5% lower than state average
--- 11.5% lower than national average

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#49. Yell County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 39.7 per 100 people
--- 47.6% lower than state average
--- 8.3% lower than national average

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#48. Hempstead County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 40.0 per 100 people
--- 47.2% lower than state average
--- 7.6% lower than national average

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#47. Franklin County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 40.2 per 100 people
--- 47.0% lower than state average
--- 7.2% lower than national average

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#46. Pope County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 41.2 per 100 people
--- 45.6% lower than state average
--- 4.8% lower than national average

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#45. Sharp County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 43.7 per 100 people
--- 42.3% lower than state average
--- 0.9% higher than national average

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#44. Lawrence County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 45.2 per 100 people
--- 40.4% lower than state average
--- 4.4% higher than national average

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#43. Saint Francis County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 47.7 per 100 people
--- 37.1% lower than state average
--- 10.2% higher than national average

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#42. Crawford County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 51.4 per 100 people
--- 32.2% lower than state average
--- 18.7% higher than national average

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#41. Columbia County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 51.7 per 100 people
--- 31.8% lower than state average
--- 19.4% higher than national average

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#40. Johnson County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 52.3 per 100 people
--- 31.0% lower than state average
--- 20.8% higher than national average

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#39. Polk County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 52.8 per 100 people
--- 30.3% lower than state average
--- 21.9% higher than national average

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#38. Cleburne County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 53.9 per 100 people
--- 28.9% lower than state average
--- 24.5% higher than national average

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#37. Clark County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 54.7 per 100 people
--- 27.8% lower than state average
--- 26.3% higher than national average

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#36. White County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 54.8 per 100 people
--- 27.7% lower than state average
--- 26.6% higher than national average

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#35. Jackson County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 55.0 per 100 people
--- 27.4% lower than state average
--- 27.0% higher than national average

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#34. Howard County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 58.5 per 100 people
--- 22.8% lower than state average
--- 35.1% higher than national average

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#33. Mississippi County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 59.5 per 100 people
--- 21.5% lower than state average
--- 37.4% higher than national average

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#32. Crittenden County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 59.6 per 100 people
--- 21.4% lower than state average
--- 37.6% higher than national average

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#31. Cross County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 59.7 per 100 people
--- 21.2% lower than state average
--- 37.9% higher than national average

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#30. Scott County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 62.0 per 100 people
--- 18.2% lower than state average
--- 43.2% higher than national average

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#29. Fulton County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 62.1 per 100 people
--- 18.1% lower than state average
--- 43.4% higher than national average

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#28. Faulkner County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 64.0 per 100 people
--- 15.6% lower than state average
--- 47.8% higher than national average

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#27. Boone County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 67.2 per 100 people
--- 11.3% lower than state average
--- 55.2% higher than national average

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#26. Poinsett County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 69.0 per 100 people
--- 9.0% lower than state average
--- 59.4% higher than national average

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#25. Washington County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 70.2 per 100 people
--- 7.4% lower than state average
--- 62.1% higher than national average

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#24. Izard County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 70.5 per 100 people
--- 7.0% lower than state average
--- 62.8% higher than national average

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#23. Arkansas County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 70.7 per 100 people
--- 6.7% lower than state average
--- 63.3% higher than national average

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#22. Ouachita County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 70.7 per 100 people
--- 6.7% lower than state average
--- 63.3% higher than national average

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#21. Stone County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 71.4 per 100 people
--- 5.8% lower than state average
--- 64.9% higher than national average

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#20. Clay County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 72.7 per 100 people
--- 4.1% lower than state average
--- 67.9% higher than national average

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#19. Bradley County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 73.8 per 100 people
--- 2.6% lower than state average
--- 70.4% higher than national average

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#18. Montgomery County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 80.6 per 100 people
--- 6.3% higher than state average
--- 86.1% higher than national average

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#17. Lee County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 82.0 per 100 people
--- 8.2% higher than state average
--- 89.4% higher than national average

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#16. Miller County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 83.4 per 100 people
--- 10.0% higher than state average
--- 92.6% higher than national average

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#15. Phillips County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 84.2 per 100 people
--- 11.1% higher than state average
--- 94.5% higher than national average

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#14. Desha County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 85.2 per 100 people
--- 12.4% higher than state average
--- 96.8% higher than national average

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#13. Chicot County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 90.0 per 100 people
--- 18.7% higher than state average
--- 107.9% higher than national average

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#12. Drew County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 91.2 per 100 people
--- 20.3% higher than state average
--- 110.6% higher than national average

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#11. Lafayette County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 91.5 per 100 people
--- 20.7% higher than state average
--- 111.3% higher than national average

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#10. Little River County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 96.4 per 100 people
--- 27.2% higher than state average
--- 122.6% higher than national average

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#9. Jefferson County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 98.7 per 100 people
--- 30.2% higher than state average
--- 127.9% higher than national average

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#8. Greene County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 98.8 per 100 people
--- 30.3% higher than state average
--- 128.2% higher than national average

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#7. Garland County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 112.9 per 100 people
--- 48.9% higher than state average
--- 160.7% higher than national average

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#6. Union County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 113.6 per 100 people
--- 49.9% higher than state average
--- 162.4% higher than national average

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#5. Sebastian County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 121.5 per 100 people
--- 60.3% higher than state average
--- 180.6% higher than national average

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#4. Independence County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 132.5 per 100 people
--- 74.8% higher than state average
--- 206.0% higher than national average

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#3. Baxter County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 136.7 per 100 people
--- 80.3% higher than state average
--- 215.7% higher than national average

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#2. Pulaski County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 141.7 per 100 people
--- 86.9% higher than state average
--- 227.3% higher than national average

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#1. Craighead County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 164.0 per 100 people
--- 116.4% higher than state average
--- 278.8% higher than national average

This story originally appeared on Ophelia and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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