The number of fatalities attributable to drug overdose has more than tripled over the course of the past two decades. The increase in overdose fatalities has affected every demographic, but some groups have faced far greater impacts than others. For example, a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that rural areas have seen significantly greater increases in overdose fatality rates than cities.

At the turn of the millennium, cities had a greater rate of overdose fatalities than rural areas; 6.4 out of 100,000 people died by drug overdose in cities while the rate of drug overdose deaths in rural areas was 4 out of 100,000 people. The overdose fatality rates increased for both cities and rural areas in the years that followed, and by 2015 rural areas were found to have higher rates of overdose fatalities than cities with 17 out of 100,000 people suffering an overdose death in rural areas and 16/2 out of 100,000 people dying of overdoses in cities.

Notably, the rate of illegal drug use was actually found to be lower in rural areas than in cities, so it appears that it is the negative effects of drug use that tend to be greater in rural areas. This has led researchers to believe that people in rural areas may have more limited ability to receive quick medical attention in the event of an overdose than people in cities.

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