Jan 8, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Magdalena Cerdá
Magdalena Cerdá, PhD, MPH, is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program.
Rates of fatal overdoses caused by analgesic opioids (i.e. opiate-based painkillers) have increased dramatically in the United States over the past five years. The prevalence of nonmedical analgesic drug abuse (i.e. use for recreational or self-treatment purposes without a prescription, or using more medication than prescribed by a physician) is second only to that of marijuana abuse, and currently the number of fatal analgesic overdoses is greater than the number of heroin and cocaine overdoses combined. While research until now has focused on the role of individual characteristics, there is an increasing realization that neighborhoods also play an important role in shaping substance abuse.