According to a report released on Tuesday by the Berkeley Research Group and commissioned by the Trust for America’s Health, drugs, alcohol, and suicide may lead to over 1.6 million American deaths over the next decade.
A Troubling Trend
The group’s findings reveal disturbing trends in mental health, substance abuse, and treatment availability. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers charted trends from the period between 1999 and 2015. In 2015, researchers discovered, 39.7 out of every 100,000 United States deaths could be traced to one of these three causes. In 1999, however, the mortality rate was only 23.1 for every 100,000.
This means that the average American is 72% more likely to die because of substance abuse or suicide than they were just 15 years ago. There were significant disparities between states, however. New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming topped the list, with 77.4, 67.4, and 66.4 deaths per 100,000 respectively. Drug overdose fatalities in the U.S. more than doubled in the period of time studied, jumping from 6.9 to 16.3 per 100,000 residents.
Based on these trends, the Berkeley Group hypothesized that these three causes could prompt 56 deaths for every 100,000 residents by 2025. This could put regions already struggling with the national opioid crisis into an even more dangerous territory, with New Mexico cresting 100 addiction and suicide deaths per 100,000 for the first time in history.
A Wider Problem
Although these three causes may not seem to be connected, all can often be traced back to mental health problems or economic issues. “We see a connection among the three epidemics,” said John Auerbach, the CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, which sponsored the study. “They are all behavioral health-related—that is, they have a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis associated with them.”
Personal trauma, mental illness, and economic distress can all play an incredibly influential role in substance addiction or suicidal ideation. A growing number of Americans are using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate for serious mental health problems. In a country where 44.7 million adults suffer from mental illness and where less than 50 percent receive adequate treatment, it makes sense that substance abuse is also on the rise. Experts recommend that states use a combination of substance abuse education, affordable mental health care, and comprehensive addiction recovery programs for those who are suffering from an addiction.
Have you personally experienced the impact of a drug or alcohol addiction? Are you worried that a child, friend, or loved one is coping with a mental illness in unhealthy or destructive ways? If so, the professionals at CARUS Recovery have the tools to help. A drug and alcohol rehab center in Los Angeles, we have provided a safe, healing environment for many who struggle with addiction and co-occurring mental disorders. Call us at 877-225-7774 to learn more.