America’s opioid epidemic is widespread, but it is especially impacting rural Alabama towns. When large amounts of prescription opioid painkillers are distributed to these communities, it can lead to addiction, drug abuse and overdoses. Not only does this issue impact the health and safety of Alabama residents, but it can also lead to criminal convictions for drug offenses.

The severity of the issue is outlined by a recent report in According to the new data, 1.7 billion opioid pain pills came to Alabama from 2006 to 2012. One of the hardest-hit towns is Gilbertown. Even though the population is fewer than 200, more than 1.6 million pills came through it during that same time period. That comes out to approximately 1,500 painkillers per person each year.

Several cities and towns in Walker County also have an exorbitant opioid rate. The county as a whole has the highest rate of all Alabama counties between 2006 and 2012. Pharmacies in Walker County received nearly 9 million opioid pills per year while the population is fewer than 65,000. About 140 pills per individual went through the county. Jasper is the largest city in the county and had 458 pain pills per person pass through it each year.

It is clear from the data that the opioid problem impacts rural and poor areas in north Alabama the most. The high volume of opioid distribution is affecting the health, freedom and livelihood of too many Alabama residents. Those who are facing criminal consequences for opioid use may want to speak with a defense attorney.