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The congressional districts with the most opioids per person

Data: Opioid Prescribing Rates by Congressional District, United States, 2016. Note: The prescription rates are from 2016, but the map reflects the current representatives of the district. In Ohio’s 12th district, Troy Balderson is listed as the representative, but the race is currently too close to call. Correction: This map has been updated to use the previous district boundaries for Pennsylvania, before redistricting. A previous version of this map used the 2018 election district boundaries. Map: Kerrie Vila/Axios

The areas most flooded with prescription opioids are mostly represented by Republicans. The opioid crisis has taken a steep toll nationwide, but the South and Appalachia are particularly inundated with highly addictive prescription painkillers.

What's next: The House passed roughly 60 opioid-related bills in June; a timeline for getting a full package all the way to President Trump's desk is not yet clear. The administration — most notably the Food and Drug Administration — has also embraced new steps to help combat the addiction epidemic.

Between the lines: This is an association, not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. The abuse of prescription painkillers is worst in the South and Appalachia, which are predominantly represented by Republicans.

  • And it's often worse in rural areas than in major cities — note how much the Atlanta area stands out from the rest of the Deep South for its comparatively low levels of opioids per capita.

The big picture: Members of Congress from those districts are likely to hear about the opioid epidemic during their re-election campaigns, even if they're not in competitive races — which heightens the urgency of getting the legislation to Trump's desk.

  • A CBS News poll in May found that nearly eight out of 10 Americans want the federal government to do more to address it.

Prescription opioids are the main target of the federal response so far. The House's package includes bills to change the way some prescription drugs are packaged and how patients return unused drugs.

  • But the epidemic has spread well beyond prescription drugs: Fentanyl and heroin are now associated with more overdoses than prescription drugs.

The big picture: Experts say Congress' efforts are a worthwhile start, but that the main thing Washington needs to do is come up with a lot more money for addiction treatment programs.

  • Public-health experts have praised the FDA for embracing medication-assisted therapy — products like methadone that help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal so people are less likely to return to more dangerous and addictive illicit drugs.
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