Data Tool to Fight Opioid Epidemic

A new data visualization tool referred to as the “Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool” is a resource solely focused on Appalachia. This unique tool provided by NORC at the University of Chicago, and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), illustrates the relationship in each Appalachian county by determining overdose deaths and socioeconomic factors.

These issues may include poverty, unemployment, education, and disability. The new tool can also generate a fact sheet to assist in community planning and response efforts. The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool’s home screen displays a map of the Appalachian Regions which includes 420 counties spanning 13 states from northern Mississippi to southern New York.

Moving the cursor over a county displays overdose mortality rate information. One click will then create a data fact sheet with information on the country, overdose mortality data, socioeconomic and demographic data, and how the county compares with the entire Appalachian Region and the nation as a whole.

Some facts obtained from using the mapping tool include:

  • Central Appalachia counties with the highest rates of overdose are often the same counties with the highest rates of people on disability and are often the same counties with the lowest levels of educated residents
  • Although Central Appalachia remains the most highly affected sub-region of
    Appalachia, other sub-regions are experiencing increasing rates of overdose
  • In Northern and Southern Appalachia, the highest overdose rates are in urban counties


“The information goes well beyond demonstrating the impact of opioid abuse in the Appalachian Regions,” according to Michael Meit, Co-Director of the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and leader for the NORC research conducted for the ARC. He wants to see the tool help policymakers and community leaders develop informed responses to the challenges they face by revealing underlying systemic factors that need to be addressed.

Share Button