Drug and alcohol-related fatalities and suicides increased at a record pace of 11 percent in the last year. To translate that number into actual individual deaths, it amounts to 142,000 American lives that ended at a rate of about one every four minutes. This number is the highest ever recorded, according to the CDC. To put it into a different perspective, this number is higher than the number of Americans who died in all U.S. wars since 1950 combined. As we read these statistics on drug-related deaths, one more person will have died from overdose or suicide resulting from substance abuse.
In 1999, the number of alcohol or drug-related deaths or suicides totaled 64,591. The number more than doubled to 141,963 in 2016, according to the CDC. Let’s take a look at the numbers according to the substance involved:
- Synthetic opioids (fentanyl): 19,400 deaths
- Heroin: 15,500 deaths
- Natural or semisynthetic opioids (morphine, codeine): 14,500 deaths
Note: These numbers include all genders, age groups, race/ethnicities, geographic regions and urban and rural communities.
Are We Facing a Worst Case Scenario with Drug-Related Deaths?
If drug-related deaths follow the trajectory of the past decade, they could reach 1.6 million over the next decade. This projection comes from a report issued by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Well-Being Trust (WBT). The 2017 report was titled “Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy.” However, the significant increase in deaths in 2016 put the country well past the worst case scenario. At this rate, the number of fatalities could top more than 2 million in the coming decade.
Drug-Related Deaths Affect U.S. Life Expectancy Projections
LIfe expectancy projections dropped in 2015 for the first time in decades. It fell again in 2016. Major contributing factors in this decline include three public health crises. For instance, deaths from unintentional injuries and suicide increased, while preventable deaths decreased. This decrease in life expectancy falls mostly on young Americans who are most affected by the opioid crisis.
To gain a better perspective on the percentages of change in drug or alcohol-related deaths from 2015 to 2016, you may find the following facts useful:
- From 2015 to 2016:
- Alcohol-related deaths increased by 11% per 100,000 among 18 to 34-year-olds.
- Drug-related deaths increased by 29% per 100,000 among 18 to 34-year-olds.
- Suicide deaths increased by 10% per 100,000 among 0-to 17-year-olds.
The above percentages were selected because they depict the most considerable amount of change in the designated period and age groups. More information is available here.
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The Need for Increased Funding to Address the Drug Epidemic
The 2017 TFAH report also calls for a comprehensive approach to the drug epidemic. It calls for a focus on prevention, early identification of issues, and effective treatment. The data provided in their 2017 report reinforces the need for additional funding at the national, state, and local levels. The funding will aid in addressing the opioid epidemic, increases in alcohol abuse, and other drug and suicide addictions or deaths.
An Addict is Not the Only Victim of Addiction-Related Problems
Of course, we want to help as many addicts as possible. But, in the process, we need to remember the other victims of addiction and find ways to help them put their lives back together. Unintentional victims of addiction are those who have an addict in their home, or who have been robbed or injured by an addict. Additionally, we need to remember the innocent children who have been harmed or neglected by addicted parents.
Not only are individuals affected by an addict’s behavior, but the effects also extend to have an impact on the community as well. Also, the U.S. Government spends billions of dollars every year on drug treatments, law enforcement, incarcerations, hospitalization, and burials due to drug-related crimes. Policymakers must rethink how they respond to the needs of people who have been directly or indirectly affected by substance abuse.
If you would like more information about drug-related deaths, contact us today. Also, we can help you choose a treatment program for yourself or a loved one if needed.