Washington, D.C. – According to a new Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and Well Being Trust (WBT) analysis, there were disproportionally large increases in drug deaths among racial/ethnic minority groups, particularly among Black Americans, who experienced an increase of 39 percent in drug deaths between 2015 and 2016. And, Latinos saw drug death rates increase 24 percent, while the rate for Whites increased 19 percent from 2015-2016.
In addition, alcohol, drug and suicide deaths increased at a record pace in 2016 – by 11 percent – and represent more than 14,000 additional deaths over 2015. Now, for two years in a row, increases in these deaths have been at record highs.
Additional main findings:
TFAH and WBT issued projections in the November 2017 Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy report, which found that if alcohol, drug and suicide deaths continued on the trajectory of the past decade, they could reach 1.6 million over the next decade. However, the substantial rise in deaths in 2016 puts the country past the “worst case scenario” projection trajectory. If deaths continue to grow at rates similar to those from 2015 to 2016, deaths could top more than 2 million from 2016-2025.
“These data should be a signal to every person – from our friends, family and neighbors to policy makers—that we have a crisis in our country with drugs, alcohol and suicide. These crises scream for action—this is a nightmare scenario—and our communities are suffering,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, Chief Strategy Officer, Well Being Trust. “We must recognize that it is beyond time to act. These data shouldn’t just be a talking point, these are lives—we need immediate, cross cutting systemic action.”
The new Pain in the Nation Update Brief features extensive trend analysis of synthetic opioids, alcohol, total drug, and suicide deaths.
“For each of these deaths, many more Americans are affected, either directly or through family and friends,” said John Auerbach, president and CEO of TFAH. “These new data demand policymakers rethink what communities are affected and what multi-sector strategies are needed to address these three epidemics. We must ensure that funding, programmatic efforts and policies are directed to all the people and communities in need. The solution is a comprehensive National Resilience Strategy to combat the deaths from despair.”
TFAH’s and WBT’s 2017 Pain in the Nation report called for the creation of a National Resilience Strategy that takes a comprehensive approach by focusing on prevention, early identification of issues and effective treatment. These new data reinforce the need for additional focus and funding at the national, state and local levels to address the underlying causes of long-term increases in alcohol, drug and suicide deaths. TFAH and WBT recommend:
Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. For more information, visit www.healthyamericans.org. Twitter: @HealthyAmerica1
Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation. Created to include participation from organizations across sectors and perspectives, Well Being Trust is committed to innovating and addressing the most critical mental health challenges facing America, and to transforming individual and community wellness. www.wellbeingtrust.org. Twitter: @WellBeingTrust
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