Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

January 22, 2020

Study: Lower-income hit hardest by opioids

Photo | Flickr | K-State Research and Extension

People with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to die of an opioid overdose, according to a study published in the medical journal PLOS One.

Those who live at or below the federal poverty line, for instance, make up 31% of opioid overdose victims. Those not in the labor force make up 47%, the study said.

The new study details who is most likely to be a victim of opioid abuse at a time when such deaths remain at an all-time high nationally. More than 70,000 were killed by opioids in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Massachusetts, deaths peaked in 2016 but have surpassed 2,000 in the last three years on record, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

The PLOS One study, which was published Friday, also found those without a high school diploma make up 24% of deaths, and another 35% come from those without any level of college education. Those with master's or doctorate degrees, on the other hand, account for 3% of such deaths.

The connection between lower income levels and higher opioid death rates doesn't mean Massachusetts fares better than most.

Massachusetts is the country's wealthiest state, with a median household income of $86,345 as of 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But the state ranked ninth highest nationally for opioid deaths rate in 2017, according to the CDC.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF