Certain SD counties are more vulnerable to opioid overdoses, other risks

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - According to the the South Dakota Vulnerability Assessment, "Rural U.S. communities are disproportionately impacted by drug overdose deaths," including Pennington and Oglala Lakota Counties.

As narcotic prescriptions are dropping nationally, the illicit substances trend is going up. (KOTA TV)

"Definitely spots where narcotics are necessary, but in general, long-term narcotics for pain is now known to be ineffective and really not the standard of care," said Dr. Stephen Tamang, Family Physician at Regional Health Center. "The mortality from opioids has really been recognized for about a decade, but it just continually, exponentially rises."

In addition to a spike in opioid deaths in recent years, there has also been an increase in cases of acute hepatitis C virus, called HCV.

the study found that with injectable opioids the risk of HCV, HIV, and other bloodborne infections increases.

The study also claims that in 2009, there were more deaths from overdoses than from car accidents, and 60% of those overdoses involved prescription drugs.

"The vast majority of it, initially, really had nothing to do with trying to give someone narcotics, it was just trying to control pain, and now, we know that was the wrong approach and the wrong tool to use-- still, we should address pain, but narcotics were the wrong choice the vast majority of the time," said Tamang.

See related story SD Vulnerability Assessment County Data