How do you compare the quality of life between the two vastly different regions and is a small town healthier than a sprawling urban center?
I believe a small town is less complicated than a large urban center and little things, like parking tickets, are far less. Ah, Big Smiley Face. A parking ticket in Ligonier is $7.00 compared to the $70 I got in April in Hollywood for parking in the wrong spot when a street sweeper came through and the $93 ticket I ranted about in my previous post.
But is a small town healthier? Not necessarily. Hey, growing up in the '70s, there were jokes with some grain of truth about the Mafia in New Kensington and there were drug busts in and around my hometown.
I heard this time back about the on-going rise in drug use in Western PA and I did a search that returned three articles. The first is from a January 2014 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette focusing on the overdose deaths from prescription drugs. It's titled Overdose deaths from prescription drug abuse skyrocketing in southwestern Pennsylvania:
Fayette County has one of the highest death rates from drug overdoses in the country, more than that of West Virginia, the state with the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation.
And in Westmoreland County, drug overdose deaths for the first time have surpassed all other types of unnatural deaths combined, including car accidents, homicides and fires.
In 2011, the most recent data available for research, drug overdose deaths in Allegheny County totaled 243, a rate of 20.5 per 100,000 residents. That’s up from 2010 and 2009, when 228 and 222 people died from overdoses, respectively. Compare that to the rate in 1990, when 87 people, or 6.3 per 100,000 residents, died of an overdose in the county.
That was followed by two articles on the heroin problem in the region from the New Pittsburgh Courier that ran a piece in April 2014 from the Associated Press Heroin use taking a toll on Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review with an article in September 2014 No way to fix Western Pennsylvania's heroin problem, report says.
Maybe the problem stands out more in a less populated region. A write up on drugfree.org noted an increase in Southern California's use of heroin in 2013:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported initiations to heroin have increased by 80 percent among teens ages 12 to 17. The increase in heroin use is largely attributed to the drug’s low cost and easy availability, both in southern California and around the country.
A study published last year found OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse. Many people who abused the drug have switched to heroin.
The study included more than 2,500 people who were dependent on opioids, who were followed between July 2009 and March 2012. During that time, there was a 17 percent decrease in OxyContin abuse. In 2010, the company that makes OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is more difficult to inhale or inject.
All right, this is much more of a grim look at comparing quality of life than I had imagined I would take. What makes for a positive quality of life in one region compared to another has many factors like availability of entertainment and cultural activities; jobs availability; traffic, housing prices, and more.
What it boils down to is what do you as an individual and as a family need to have a high quality of life where you live? Small towns have one set of problems and advantages while urban areas have another set of problems and advantages.