Exploring California's Opioid Data

Dried opium plants in Afghanistan; photo by U.S. Marine Corps.

Dried opium plants in Afghanistan; photo by U.S. Marine Corps.

LiveStories includes data on opioid-related prescriptions, deaths, and hospitalizations for all 58 counties in California, made available from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Exploring this data provides valuable insights on where and how the opioid crisis hits hardest in the state. For example, you can see how opioid deaths are more concentrated in northern counties (all data is per 100,000 residents):

Many experts trace the roots of the opioid crisis to the overprescription of opioid pain relievers, beginning in the late 1990’s. Health experts now recognize that prescription opioids are dangerously addictive, and in many California counties, opioid prescription rates have stabilized or decreased.

But legal prescription opioids are just one side of the epidemic. Even if legal opioids become harder to obtain, illegal opioids—notably heroin—are surging in popularity, and are often cheaper and more accessible than prescription opioids. The geographical pattern for heroin deaths is also different for overall opioid deaths:

At LiveStories, we’re familiar with this data from our work with the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), a coalition of county-based groups dedicated to tackling the opioid epidemic at the local level. We've highlighted the vital work they do in a previous post. Now, the data underlying their work is available to anyone with a LiveStories subscription.

Obviously, the opioid epidemic spreads beyond California. LiveStories is working to add opioid data for all counties and states in America, and our library already includes data on overall drug poisoning rates. You can get a customized report for your county here: