Here Are The California Counties Where Annual Opioid Scripts Outnumber People

Tyler Durden's picture

The California Department of Public Health just dropped some staggering statistics about the level of opioid abuse in America's progressive paradise of the left coast.  As the Sacramento Bee points out, there are a remarkable number of counties in California where annual prescriptions for pain killers actually exceed the population.  

Trinity County is the state’s fourth-smallest, and ended last year with an estimated population of 13,628 people.


Its residents also filled prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids 18,439 times, the highest per capita rate in California.


Besides Trinity, other counties with more prescriptions than people include Lake, Shasta, Tuolumne and Del Norte counties. In the Sacramento region, El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties had prescription rates above the statewide average, with Yolo County slightly below the state average.


A county’s prescription total represents all opioids dispensed via prescriptions filled at a pharmacy and tracked by the state. Statewide, 15 percent of Californians were prescribed opioids in 2016, ranging from 7.3 percent of residents in tiny Alpine County to almost 27 percent in Lake County.

As might be expected, the scripts per capita are highest in California's more rural northern counties.


So who is participating most in this deadly epidemic?  Well, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the biggest abusers of opioids are high-school educated, unemployed, white people living in small towns...

“The following characteristics were associated with higher amounts of opioids prescribed: a larger percentage of non-Hispanic whites; higher rates of uninsured and Medicaid enrollment; lower educational attainment; higher rates of unemployment; (small-town) status; more dentists and physicians per capita; a higher prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, arthritis, and disability; and higher suicide rates,” concluded the authors of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in July.


“What you’re seeing in California is what you’re seeing in many parts of the country, including Oregon,” Korthuis said. “There are still a lot of rural counties around the U.S. that are awash in prescription opioids.”

...oh, and grandma and grandpa are getting high on the reg as well.

In California, residents aged 15 to 29 got 1.7 million prescriptions in 2016, representing 7.2 percent of the state total. That’s down from the 1.9 million prescriptions in 2015, which represented about 7.8 percent of the state total. The age range that featured the largest prescription rate increase were 70- to74-year-olds, whose prescriptions grew from almost 1,354 per 1,000 people in 2015 to 1,394 per 1,000 people in 2016.


Of course, growth in opioid addiction is hardly just a California phenomenon.  According to the CDC's Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes, addiction-related deaths are far more prevalent in the rural 'rust-belt' states of the Midwest.


Meanwhile, the epidemic is growing far more severe every year with overdose deaths up 167% across the country since 1999.

The rate of drug overdose deaths increased from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 16.3 in 2015; for unintenttional drug overdose deaths, the rate increased from 4.0 per 100,000 in 1999 to 13.8 in 2015; for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.9 per 100,000 in 1999 to 10.4 in 2015 (p<0.05); for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid, the rate increased from 2.1 per 100,000 in 1999 to 9.3 per 100,000 in 2015 (p<0.05). For all four categories of drug overdose deaths, increases in rates were largest from 2013 to 2015, with the rate increasing on average by 9% per year for overall drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 11% per year for unintenttional drug overdose deaths (p<0.05), 15% per year for drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05), and 16% for unintenttional drug overdose deaths involving any opioid (p<0.05).


But don't worry too much because, as Princeton Economist Alan Krueger told us yesterday, there is a simple solution to the opioid epidemic in the U.S...apparently it can all be solved with just a little more Obamacare.

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Clock Crasher's picture

Smack here, get ya smack here.

Mr.BlingBling's picture

Scheduled narcotics prescriptions are for a maximum of 30 days (no refills w/o prescriber authorization).  So it's possible each user would have 12 scripts / year.

ET's picture

It doesn't stop people from going to the ER to pick up additional supplies of opioids.

Timely fall down some stairs, a bike crash, and whatever excuse could lead to more narcotics.

tmosley's picture

Every fake Democratic voter gets a free opiod perscription.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Is that why we call these the "Blue States?"

Bes's picture


look at the map.

trump country.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

oh, and grandma and grandpa are getting high on the reg as well.

Cancer rates go up as one gets older.

Manthong's picture


Well the good news is you should be way happy out sipping on the recycled tap water out there.

auricle's picture

Getting those drugs from their dealers....DOCTORS. 

DWD-MOVIE's picture

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do...

Mustafa Kemal's picture

I think when I get real old, maybe taking up a little opium might not hurt

Im certainly not going to think Im messing up my life

zhandax's picture

Glass it and fuck the pills.  Got the chance once in college; still remember it.

Lucretius's picture

Knucks, sorry my friend, it ain't that simple. I have the sad misfortune to suffer some of the most painful medical conditions out there. Peripheral neurolathy, arthritis and gout, till my Wifey shared herbal remedies for the later. After taking over the counter aspirin, Aleve for ten years, I managed to destroy my gut, from the esophagus down! Finally told my Doc, it's time for dope. We tried 40 mg morphine sulphate, ONCE, way too strong, was stoned for 3 days! Went to 10 mg oxycodone, bingo. It takes the edge off of the pain, so I can function, think clearly, and not be an angry pissed off person. ( I've never been a "people person", they mostly just annoy! )

 I discussed the problems and dangers with my Doc, but I am the odd one in that I take an active role in my health care, doing my own research on the drugs prescribed/ procedures recommended, BEFORE ingesting/ enduring ANYTHING!

 Point being, after 6-7 months of the same low dosage and seldom to never taking the full prescribed daily dosing, I'm fine. Though they now only last 3 hours as opposed to the original 4. My feet scream at me when it is time. And, the side benefit, I probably have a 5-6 month supply in reserve, and NO, I do not "share" or sell ANY! I'm not an irresponsible ass.

 I do on occasion have 1-2 puffs, for neasia, perhaps 1-2 times/month, it works, NOT for recreation. Long and short of it, imho, but by the grace of God, I did not receive that damn "addict gene"! While I am a control freak, it is only over me and my life, NOT others! I reckon all this addiction crap is gonna play itself out, God's way of thinning the heard. It just sucks that now that it is in .gov headlights, they'll outlaw or regulate it to death, it's just what .gov does. Sad, because it is allowing me to have some small quality of life.

 Regarding legalization, I agree. I think over half of the states are there, but as usual, the beltway has it's collective heads up their ass and their filthy paws in the till!

Peace, L.

knukles's picture

Big Pharma is lobby ! against pot legalization.
CBDs fill in the massive pain management gap between opiods and otc's.   Without the CBDs, opiates have no competition.  Ergo Big Money.  Ergo, big opiod addiction problem

justin423's picture

Except for the inconvenient fact those are Republican counties including those State of Jefferson lunatics.

lolmao500's picture

When white people get high on opiods, its a crisis. When every other people get high on crack, no problem. Got it

ET's picture

Where opioid use is high coincides with the number of people on disability. Generally, these are areas of economic stagnation or depression.

Disability because of back pain or fibromyalgia and opioid prescriptions go together. Whatever pain pills they don't use, they sell for income. They may also keep a bottle for when they wish to commit suicide. The final exit.

People use their state health insurance to go to all the ERs in their area on an alternating schedule to pick up more pain pills from unsuspecting ER docs.

Stuck on Zero's picture

When I had a severe accident years ago and I was prescribed tons of pain killers, Vicodin, Oxy, etc. Never used any of it. I keep it in the fridge in case I need it. On a trip to Belize I carried some just in case. It paid off royally. Several crew members on our dive boat got stung by lionfish and were in total agony. A little Vicodin and they got through the night. They felt so good they went out the next day and killed every lionfish they could in retribution.

SybilDefense's picture

Where do I get one of these lionfish?  I need some pillz!

thecondor's picture

Go diving in the Virgin Islands, all you can catch, no limit, or just go to Whole Foods.  Well my Whole Foods sells Lionfish anyways. 


Xena fobe's picture

Great example why opiates should be legal.  Imagine if you did not have them, those people would just suffer.

boattrash's picture

I recently ate some lionfish in a sour orange sauce, served on a bed of rice...the most delicious fish I've ever eaten.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Economically depressed areas are also rural areas where the jobs are hard and accidents and injuries are high.  That doesn't even include repetitive stress injuries from typical labor jobs.    One would expect country folk to have more injuries and pain than city folk hanging out in an office.  An old farmer who kept all his fingers was a lucky farmer for example.


One of my patients with chronic pain told me that his primary care doctor, in enquiring about pain issues, asked him "did you work hard all your life?"


"Why yes I did."


"Well this is your reward."



Baron von Bud's picture

When whitey's kids get than mom and dad its big stuff for the folks to stomp on. Among the poor, its damn hard to get higher than dad. Upvote 4u.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Looks like opioid abuse is predominantly a white problem, I agree.

Africans acting Africans is not that notable, as you say.

Drater's picture

Give them free opiods until they OD....problem solved

Bob Beachcomber's picture

Dumbing down the voting population to drones and zombie status.  Check.

Koba the Dread's picture

Rush Limbaugh and Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court were addicted for years to opioids. You can hardly say that opioids create drones and zombies.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Precisely. A lot of special interests have self interest in over-simplifying these types of problems at both the clinical and policy level.

trysaratops's picture

I guess that explains the Obamacare ruling...

Lucretius's picture

Yes, it is entirely dependent upon the monkey in question.

ET's picture

People have to make a living.

Look at the street prices of narcotics. Get on disability and sell some of the pain pills. That's how people survive.

This is also why the DEA is cracking down on the diversion of controlled substances.

Vilfredo Pareto's picture

Lol.  That is true.  But the only way to stop the ten percent or so selling their pills is to eliminate prescription opiates.


We accept that minors will occasionally get alcohol.  The only way to stop it is to prohibit all alcohol sales.


If we are going to have a policy to ban all things where a minority uses it inappropriately we won't have much left.  This is the price of living in a relatively free country where individuals have choices.

luckylogger's picture

Alot more to it than you simpletons know.

I am on disability, it ain't easy to get pain meds and I have big time documeted issues.

multiple ruptrued disks, partial paralizatio and a fuked up leg.

You guys are just daed wrong, 

I am beginning to thik zerohedge is a joke!!!!!!!!!!!

ET's picture

I had some ruptured discs, but I never took opioids for them. It was always NSAIDs and Tylenol and physical therapy.

I never claimed disability, either. I recovered.

Opioids are overprescribed in the US even by Western standards.

Xena fobe's picture

Grow opium poppies.  I hope for all our sake, opiates are legalized one day like weed.  No one has the right to tell another what pain relief he is entitled to. 

Lucretius's picture

I'm in your boat, and fully agree. There ARE legitimate reasons for it's use, and responsible people who can and do benefit.

stecha's picture

this is all a bullshit lie, fucking wetbacks are the cause as are thier cia handlers. fuck you cdc liberals. may you all choke on your preverbial race trading cocks.

Chart Man's picture

The democratic way  just DRUG THEM!

coast1's picture

In Oregon, you can grow four marijuana plants...I did.  So to see "rural" people who are not growing, and instead getting prescription drugs, boggles my mind...My plants are about to flower, and the buds are killer :-)  Will last me a year easy...And MJ plants are the easiet to grow...Trimming them is time consuming, but I do it while watching stephen colbert and that morning womens show, lol...Actually I do it while watching longmire and house of cards :-)  Or listening to pink floyd and jethro tull

directaction's picture

I can't stand dope, people who smoke dope or pop pills or those who watch Colbert, but since you watch Longmire and told this story so nicely I wish I could upvote you twice.

coast1's picture

Its not dope, its a plant that grows out of the ground.  And I was kidding, I dont even have anything but netflix, I dont een know who stephen solbert is but from another article on zerohedge...I find that smoking a little marijuana late afternoon after a hard days work, eating dinner and watching a movie is better than drinking alcohol...And I would not take any pharma drugs even if my life depended on it...Sometimes I smoke a little and write music...I am about to start a youtube channel or webpage with my music...coming soon, and I wil share it with all my ZH friends...  luv u guys

directaction's picture

It's dope. I used to smoke dope. Everyone called it dope. Everyone. Cops, stoners, too.

coast1's picture

I never called it dope, maybe people should learn a bit before naming things.  Just because stupid people decide to name something because of their lack of learning does not mean I have to go along with it.....But really who cares huh?  call it anything you want, you can even call it dog shit and it would probably be a fad, is a plant that grows out of the it mind enhancement, call it a weed, call it dope call it anything you want...It is a plant that grows out of the ground naturally is what I call it, because that is what it is. 

pawn's picture

WEED they were smoking marijuana SUBlime smoke 2 joints in the morning than smoke some more. Don't like 2smoke just love the lyrics.

are we there yet's picture

That partly explains the California vote for Hillary. A lot of brain damage going on.

SybilDefense's picture

The next article will be on Antidepressant over prescription in California, and will come with a cutout overlay map and will show Cali is the big winner in both contests.  We could decrease US drug use by %40 by decreasing the size of California's population to zero in one fell swoop.

Nobody For President's picture

Oh fuck off. California publishes probably reasonably accurate statistics, and that is where the problems are?

Try Illinois, Ohio, and the rest of the rust belt, and they will kick Calis kabooty, maybe overall, but for sure on a per capita basis.

It's not an opoid problem, it is a lack of oppurtinity/employment, more manual labor injury, and demographic (older population) problem.

And yeah, most of the blue counties in California did vote for Trump...