9 Ways to Address Increasing Drug Overdose and Suicide Rates

Despite efforts to help individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues, drug overdose and suicide increased last year.

The substance abuse crisis in the United States shows no signs of slowing down despite increased regulations and efforts from legislators, communities and companies.

Drug overdose death rates were higher in 2017 compared to 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, analyzed by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and Well Being Trust (WBT).

"Just one person dying from a preventable cause is one death too many," said Benjamin F. Miller, Psy.D., Chief Strategy Officer, Well Being Trust. "Evidence provides clear ways to more proactively address issues of substance misuse and help build resiliency in our communities, but, our country has not yet prioritized investing in prevention and intervention. If we continue to fail to put dollars and common sense into a systematic approach to prevention and treatment, we'll never ensure optimal health and well-being for our nation."

TFAH and WBT found that the epidemic impacted all populations and age groups in 2017, most notably:

  • Drug overdose rates for men: increased by 11.1%;
  • Drug overdose rates for women: increased by 7.5%;
  • Drug overdose rates for 15- to 24-year-olds increased by 1.6%;
  • Drug overdose rates for 25- to 34-year-olds increased by 11.0%;
  • Drug overdose rates for 35- to 44-year-olds increased by 11.4%;
  • Drug overdose rates for 45- to 54-year-olds increased by 9.3%; and
  • Drug overdose rates for 55- to 64-year-olds increased by 9.4%.

"Another year of increasing numbers of drug overdose deaths is a national emergency, that can't be overstated," said John Auerbach, TAH president and CEO in a statement.  "Government and the healthcare sector at all levels must adopt a comprehensive approach and strengthen efforts to prevent substance misuse and suicide attempts by addressing their underlying causes. We face a crisis that requires a multi-faceted response and the skills of the public health sector."

The organizations outlined nine recommendations evidence-based policies and programs that federal, state, and local officials should put in place or extend to address drug misuse and save lives.


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