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Interactive tool sheds light on opioid crisis in Appalachia

March 21, 2018
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) on Tuesday released a data visualization tool that illustrates the opioid epidemic’s impact on the Appalachian region and its relation to various socioeconomic factors.

The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool integrates overdose mortality rates in each of the 13-state region’s 420 counties with data on unemployment, poverty, disability and other socioeconomic variables. Users can compare county-level data with regional and national trends.

The tool can generate fact sheets that its creators say can be used in community planning and opioid epidemic response efforts by revealing underlying systemic factors fueling the epidemic. While the tool is focused on overdose deaths in the Appalachian Region, its creators believe it will generate interest among policymakers and community leaders addressing other public health issues across the nation.

“The information we provide goes well beyond demonstrating the impact of opioid abuse in the Appalachian Region,” Michael Meit, co-director of the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and leader of the NORC research conducted for ARC, said in a news release. “We hope it will help policymakers and community leaders develop an informed response to the challenges they face by revealing underlying, systemic factors that also need to be addressed.”

NORC at the University of Chicago is a nonpartisan research institution to guide programmatic, business and policy decisions. ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments within the Appalachian Region.


The National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit is the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state, and federal agencies, business, academia, clinicians, treatment providers, counselors, educators, state and national leaders, and advocates impacted by prescription drug abuse and heroin use.

April 2-5, 2018 | Atlanta, GA



The Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool is brilliant because it exposes underlying, systemic factors that point straight at a preventable and treatable cause. Unfortunately no one knows what that cause is. Until now. It's a development problem. Specifically a perception development problem. Perception development is determined by the sequence of perception risk factors that are determined by goal.

If the goal is survival - something humans are designed for - dependence will result in todays times.

This kind of perception can be identified, measured and intervened on before SUD progression, OD or other negative consequence.

Changing symptoms won't change Appalachia. Change perception development - in a small percentage of the population - and symptoms go away. Research can be seen at