Recreational use and abuse of prescription narcotics has received much attention in recent years, from the 2003 revelation that Rush Limbaugh was abusing OxyContin to the multi-drug overdose of Heath Ledger. If you do a little searching you will no doubt run across some descriptions of prescription narcotic abuse as growing and alarming trends. Kevin Z of Deep Sea News and The Other 95% pointed me to a handy little tool to take a look at a couple of aspects of these trends.
The Las Vegas Sun has put together an interactive map of the US which depicts state-by-state rates of consumption of the prescription narcotics hydocodone, oxycodone, methadone, morphine, codeine, fentanyl and meperidine. It covers the years from 1997-2006 so one can examine trends for each compound over time- mostly the trends are for increasing consumption.
As a brief flavor, the top states in per-capita consumption of hydrocodone in 2006 were Nevada, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama; For oxycodone the 2006 top consuming states were Delaware, Florida, Tennessee, Nevada and Maine.
Delaware? Why Delaware? And why does Maine show such high rates of use for so many narcotics?
The regional selectivity (southeastern states) of meperidine (Demerol) use is quite fascinating.