‘Epidemic’: Record Number of Americans Died From Alcohol, Drugs, Suicide in 2017

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A record number of Americans ‒ more than 150,000 ‒ died due to alcohol and/or drug abuse and suicide in 2017, according to a new report by Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust.

The study, conducted by nonprofit organizations that report on high impact health issues, used data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The findings revealed that 151,845 people in the US died from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017, more than twice as many as in 1999. 

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In addition, between 2016 and 2017, the national combined death rate resulting from alcohol and drug abuse or suicide increased by 6 percent, from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people. Synthetic opioid deaths also rose 45 percent between 2016 and 2017, representing a 10-fold increase over the last five years.

"Americans are now dying at a faster rate from overdoses involving synthetic opioids than they did from all drugs in 1999," the report states.

The number of suicides also increased by 4 percent between 2016 and 2017. 

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"Between 2016 and 2017, suicide death rates for children and adolescents increased by 16 percent from 2.1 deaths per 100,000 to 2.4 per 100,000," the report adds.

The 2017 rate of death by alcohol, drugs and suicide among people between the ages of 35 and 54 was 72.4 per 100,000 people, with the rate for males being 68.2 per 100,000 and for females 25.7 deaths per 100,0000.

"We need a comprehensive approach with attention to the upstream root causes — like childhood trauma, poverty and discrimination — and the downstream life-saving efforts — like overdose reversal and access to treatment — and everything in between," said John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America's Health, according to the report.

"A focus on only one or two approaches won't work with complex and widespread epidemics like these," Auerbach added. "As a nation, we need to better understand and to systematically address the factors that drive these devastating deaths of despair."

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