Drug, Alcohol & Suicide Deaths Could Rise 60% In Next Decade | The Fix

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Despite efforts to address growing issues, a report released in November of last year indicates that 1.6 million Americans could die from drugs, alcohol and suicide in the next 10 years. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, the authors of the report, which was released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust, claim that 1.6 million may even be on the low side due to the growing opioid epidemic. 

“The United States is facing a new set of epidemics—more than 1 million Americans have died in the past decade from drug overdoses, alcohol and suicides (2006 to 2015),” reads the report. “Life expectancy in the country decreased last year for the first time in two decades—and these three public health crises have been major contributing factors to this shift.”

The report’s analysis, conducted by the Berkeley Research Group, states that in 2015, there were 127,500 deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide. By 2025, this number is projected to grow to 192,000. 

Between the years 2000 and 2015, drug overdose deaths tripled. In 2015, New Mexico, Alaska, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming had drug, alcohol and suicide death rates of 60 per 100,000 or higher. According to the report, 26 states are expected to reach rates of 60 per 100,000 by the year 2025, and New Mexico and West Virginia could grow to 100 per 100,000. 

Deaths caused by alcohol reached a 35-year high in 2015, with 33,200 deaths. If including alcohol-related violence, motor vehicle crashes and other incidents, that number increases to 88,000 annual deaths. According to the report’s analysis, almost 5.9% of Americans have an alcohol use disorder. 

According to the report, “Millions of Americans consume alcohol ‘excessively’ (binge or heavy drinking) putting them at risk for injuries or other harms. Nine out of 10 excessive drinkers do not have an alcohol use disorder, but excessive drinking is a risk factor for alcohol use disorders—as well as for suicide and other forms of violence—and one in five individuals who die from opioid overdoses also have alcohol in their system at time of death.”

Since 2000, suicides have increased by 28%. While suicide rates are higher among men, the highest increase during that time frame has actually been among middle-aged women (a 63% increase) and girls aged 10 to 14 (a 200% increase). 

In addition to studying these three growing issues from a fatal standpoint, the report looked at the economic impact of drug, alcohol and suicide related health costs, which came out to $249 billion per year. 

“These numbers are staggering, tragic—and preventable,” John Auerbach, president of Trust for America’s Health, told U.S. News. “There is a serious crisis across the nation and solutions must go way beyond reducing the supply of opioids, other drugs and alcohol.”

The report stresses the importance of the creation of what it calls a “National Resilience Strategy” meant to reduce deaths through expanding prevention and treatment initiatives. 

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