A recent article in the New York Times examined the death certificates of some 60 million Americans between 1999 and 2014, gathering the information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The article notes that death rates for Caucasians of all ages groups rose in each of the last five years, particularly among people who are less educated and lower income.
However, the most shocking statistic may be that the rate of deaths from drug overdoses tripled among whites aged 35-44 and was five times higher for those aged 25-34. The figures included fatalities caused by both prescription drugs as well as illegal substances.
“That is startling. Those are tremendous increases,” said Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
What does this say about the current drug problem in America, and who is to blame? With all of the billions of dollars spent to combat this, yet the death rates from drugs are higher than ever, where does the solution come to reversing this trend?
For starters, we know that there are many effective treatment methods for people who become addicted, so that their chances of escaping the trap are greatly increased if they can be diverted into a rehabilitation program through some form of intervention. The efforts must go well beyond that, though, to include better education and prevention programs for people of all ages, tighter controls over prescription drugs and a change in the thinking that people must take something to feel better. A new set of social norms has to be created, which is no small task, but certainly possible.