Overdose of opioids and substance abuse are claiming thousands of lives annually in the United States. However, the death rate due to overdose of opioids has gone up significantly among the middle-aged white Americans over the years, a report published by The New York Times recently says.
Though obesity has made diabetes a major concern for midlife Americans, death from diabetes has not been an increasing threat in the recent past, notes the NYT report of November 2015, based on the findings of two Princeton economists – Angus Deaton, who won The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2015, and his wife Anne Case.
Deaton and Case took into account the health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other related sources to prepare their report. They confirmed that the rising annual death rates among this group are being driven by an epidemic of suicides and difficulties stemming from substance abuse, like alcoholic liver disease, overdose of heroin and other prescription opioids.
The researcher couple analyzed nearly 60 million death certificates collected between 1990 and 2014 to draw their conclusions. The report highlighted that in 2014 overdose death rate among white Americans aged 25 to 34 was five times higher than the equivalent figure in 1999. The mortality rate, for 45- to 54-year-old whites with not more than a high school education, increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2014.
Drug abuse biggest concern since AIDS epidemic
It seems as if a new infectious disease is the cause of the deaths in millions of Americans. Opioid epidemic is now being compared to the mayhem caused by AIDS. During the course of the study, Dr. Deaton found that middle-aged whites were committing suicide at record rates. However suicides alone, he and Dr. Case observed, did not increase the overall death rates. They found that drug and alcohol poisoning also increased death rates in this group of people.
Two Dartmouth economists, Ellen Meara and Jonathan S. Skinner, in a commentary on the Deaton-Case analysis, observed, “It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude.” Dr. Deaton, however, maintained that the problem has pushed up the death rate among young white adults to levels not seen since the end of the AIDS epidemic.
Also, they could infer from their findings that suicides, drugs and alcohol were the cause of maximum deaths which were occurring in the middle aged white Americans. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.
Moreover, if we look at the statistical data in 2015 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) by CDC, more people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2014 than during any previous year on record. From 2000 to 2014 nearly half-a-million people have died of drug overdoses in the country.
In 2014, there were approximately one-and-a-half times more drug overdose deaths in the U.S. than deaths from motor vehicle crashes. In fact, prescription pain relievers and heroin are the main drugs which have been associated with the drug overdose deaths. The rate of opioid overdose deaths, on the other hand, has tripled since 2000. Interestingly there has been a very distinct trend in the U.S. opioid epidemic – on one hand there has been a 15-year increase in overdose deaths involving prescription opioid pain relievers, and on the other a recent surge in illicit opioid overdose deaths, driven largely by heroin.
Recovery and government concern over drug menace
Looking at the havoc that opioid is causing, President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union address in January 2016, pledged to bring reforms in the lives of the people battling prescription drug and heroin abuse. The President had in October 2015 also made public the efforts to be undertaken by federal, state, and local authorities and private sector to address prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.
More than 40 provider groups, which represent doctors, dentists, advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and educators will get opioid prescription trainings. All these efforts are being undertaken to reverse the epidemic of opioid drug overdose deaths, prevent opioid-related morbidity and growing opioid addiction.
If you or your loved one is battling with opioid addiction, please seek medical help immediately. Call our 24/7 Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline today at 866-450-1557 to find out the best treatment options.