An article co-authored by Mark Berg, director of and senior research fellow in the Crime and Justice Policy Research Program, was awarded the 2021 Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award from the Rural Sociological Society.
In the article, “The Opioid Hydra: Understanding Overdose Mortality Epidemics and Syndemics Across the Rural-Urban Continuum,” Berg and colleagues examine the increase of fatal opioid overdoses over the past two decades. Results from the authors’ analyses suggest that the opioid crisis is no longer just a prescription crisis. Rather, there are now multiple distinct opioid epidemics (1. Prescription opioids, 2. Heroin, 3. Prescription-synthetic opioid mixtures) and one syndemic involving all opioids. The authors also describe the common characteristics, such as socioeconomic conditions, that connect counties impacted by opioid overdose deaths across the rural-urban continuum. The article was co-authored by Drs. David Peters and Andrew Hochstettler from Iowa State University and Dr. Shannon Monnat from Syracuse University, and published in Rural Sociology in September 2020.
The award recognizes outstanding scholarship in the form of a book or article that demonstrates excellence in scholarly work in the spirit exemplified by the late Fred Buttel. Berg’s article was recognized for its important contribution on a timely topic and its potential impact on rural communities. Within the article, the authors discuss several policy recommendations based on their analyses and provide the data file describing the opioid epidemic for every county in the conterminous U.S.
This study falls under Berg’s current project, “Understanding Opioid Risks in Rural and Micropolitan Communities: Economic Restructuring, Social Disorganization, and Local Responses,” which is supported by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.