Deaths From Drugs and Suicide Reach a Record in the U.S March 7, 2019
A look at an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and what it means.
The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since the collection of federal mortality data started in 1999, according to an analysis by two public health nonprofits, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. To reach their conclusion, the two groups parsed the latest available data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These causes killed more than twice as many as they did in 1999.
More than 150,000 Americans died from alcohol and drug-induced fatalities and suicide in 2017. Nearly a third – 47,173 – were suicides.
“There are two crises unfolding in America right now,” said Dr. Benjamin Miller, the chief policy officer for Well Being Trust and the founding director of the Eugene S. Farley Jr. Health Policy Center in Aurora, Colo. “One is in health care, and one is in society.”
The grim statistics are fueled by synthetic opioid deaths.
Twenty years ago, less than 1,000 deaths a year were attributed to fentanyl and synthetic opioids. In 2017, more than 1,000 Americans died from synthetic opioid overdoses every two weeks, topping 28,000 for the year.
Most of the increase was concentrated in the preceding five years, when such deaths rose tenfold and the opioid epidemic became the leading cause of death for Americans under 55.
West Virginia and New Mexico had the highest number of deaths, the analysis showed, with Mississippi and Texas the lowest. By region, the Northeast had the highest opioid death rates followed by the Midwest. The South’s rate was nearly half that of the Northeast.
“The numbers are driven in no small way by pharmaceutical companies creating addicting drugs and clinicians inappropriately oversubscribing opioids,” said John Auerbach, president and chief executive of Trust for America’s Health.
Though doctors and drug companies have been taking steps to control opioid addictions, Mr. Auerbach said, patients who are addicted to prescription opioids often shift to synthetic ones, like fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl has also snaked its way into other drugs like cocaine, Xanax and MDMA, widening the epidemic.
For complete article https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/07/us/deaths-drugs-suicide-record.html