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Counties where the most opioids are dispensed in Oklahoma

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

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 Oklahoma, the opioid dispensing rate was 59.3 per 100 people, compared to 43.3 nationally.

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

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#50. Marshall County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 18.3 per 100 people
--- 69.1% lower than state average
--- 57.7% lower than national average

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#49. Craig County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 19.2 per 100 people
--- 67.6% lower than state average
--- 55.7% lower than national average

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#48. Choctaw County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 19.8 per 100 people
--- 66.6% lower than state average
--- 54.3% lower than national average

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#47. Kiowa County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 20.1 per 100 people
--- 66.1% lower than state average
--- 53.6% lower than national average

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#46. Caddo County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 20.3 per 100 people
--- 65.8% lower than state average
--- 53.1% lower than national average

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#45. Canadian County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 21.2 per 100 people
--- 64.2% lower than state average
--- 51.0% lower than national average

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#44. Custer County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 21.3 per 100 people
--- 64.1% lower than state average
--- 50.8% lower than national average

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#43. Lincoln County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 22.3 per 100 people
--- 62.4% lower than state average
--- 48.5% lower than national average

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#42. Jefferson County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 23.3 per 100 people
--- 60.7% lower than state average
--- 46.2% lower than national average

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#41. Grady County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 25.1 per 100 people
--- 57.7% lower than state average
--- 42.0% lower than national average

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#40. Mcclain County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 25.4 per 100 people
--- 57.2% lower than state average
--- 41.3% lower than national average

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#39. Pawnee County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 26.1 per 100 people
--- 56.0% lower than state average
--- 39.7% lower than national average

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#38. Seminole County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 26.2 per 100 people
--- 55.8% lower than state average
--- 39.5% lower than national average

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#37. Ellis County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 28.1 per 100 people
--- 52.6% lower than state average
--- 35.1% lower than national average

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#36. Mayes County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 28.8 per 100 people
--- 51.4% lower than state average
--- 33.5% lower than national average

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#35. Rogers County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 29.5 per 100 people
--- 50.3% lower than state average
--- 31.9% lower than national average

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#34. Garvin County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 29.7 per 100 people
--- 49.9% lower than state average
--- 31.4% lower than national average

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#33. Ottawa County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 33.4 per 100 people
--- 43.7% lower than state average
--- 22.9% lower than national average

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#32. Cleveland County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 34.7 per 100 people
--- 41.5% lower than state average
--- 19.9% lower than national average

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#31. Nowata County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 37.1 per 100 people
--- 37.4% lower than state average
--- 14.3% lower than national average

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#30. Le Flore County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 38.2 per 100 people
--- 35.6% lower than state average
--- 11.8% lower than national average

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#29. Woodward County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 38.5 per 100 people
--- 35.1% lower than state average
--- 11.1% lower than national average

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#28. Payne County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 39.8 per 100 people
--- 32.9% lower than state average
--- 8.1% lower than national average

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#27. Washington County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 40.7 per 100 people
--- 31.4% lower than state average
--- 6.0% lower than national average

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#26. Delaware County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 41.1 per 100 people
--- 30.7% lower than state average
--- 5.1% lower than national average

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#25. Kay County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 42.2 per 100 people
--- 28.8% lower than state average
--- 2.5% lower than national average

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#24. Jackson County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 42.6 per 100 people
--- 28.2% lower than state average
--- 1.6% lower than national average

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#23. Beckham County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 43.0 per 100 people
--- 27.5% lower than state average
--- 0.7% lower than national average

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#22. Haskell County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 43.3 per 100 people
--- 27.0% lower than state average
--- 0.0% lower than national average

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#21. Cherokee County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 45.8 per 100 people
--- 22.8% lower than state average
--- 5.8% higher than national average

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#20. Pottawatomie County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 47.1 per 100 people
--- 20.6% lower than state average
--- 8.8% higher than national average

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#19. Murray County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 51.2 per 100 people
--- 13.7% lower than state average
--- 18.2% higher than national average

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#18. Stephens County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 52.8 per 100 people
--- 11.0% lower than state average
--- 21.9% higher than national average

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#17. Latimer County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 54.1 per 100 people
--- 8.8% lower than state average
--- 24.9% higher than national average

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#16. Pontotoc County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 56.7 per 100 people
--- 4.4% lower than state average
--- 30.9% higher than national average

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#15. Bryan County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 56.7 per 100 people
--- 4.4% lower than state average
--- 30.9% higher than national average

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#14. Coal County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 57.3 per 100 people
--- 3.4% lower than state average
--- 32.3% higher than national average

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#13. Garfield County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 58.8 per 100 people
--- 0.8% lower than state average
--- 35.8% higher than national average

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#12. Pittsburg County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 60.7 per 100 people
--- 2.4% higher than state average
--- 40.2% higher than national average

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#11. Comanche County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 60.7 per 100 people
--- 2.4% higher than state average
--- 40.2% higher than national average

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#10. Adair County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 62.2 per 100 people
--- 4.9% higher than state average
--- 43.6% higher than national average

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#9. Tillman County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 65.0 per 100 people
--- 9.6% higher than state average
--- 50.1% higher than national average

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#8. Muskogee County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 71.4 per 100 people
--- 20.4% higher than state average
--- 64.9% higher than national average

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#7. Carter County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 84.3 per 100 people
--- 42.2% higher than state average
--- 94.7% higher than national average

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#6. Oklahoma County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 97.3 per 100 people
--- 64.1% higher than state average
--- 124.7% higher than national average

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#5. Tulsa County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 103.1 per 100 people
--- 73.9% higher than state average
--- 138.1% higher than national average

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#4. Kingfisher County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 110.9 per 100 people
--- 87.0% higher than state average
--- 156.1% higher than national average

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#3. Love County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 126.2 per 100 people
--- 112.8% higher than state average
--- 191.5% higher than national average

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#2. Harmon County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 171.3 per 100 people
--- 188.9% higher than state average
--- 295.6% higher than national average

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#1. Harper County

- Opioid dispensing rate: 205.1 per 100 people
--- 245.9% higher than state average
--- 373.7% higher than national average

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

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