A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows no sign of abatement in the drug crisis facing Americans.
According to the report, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2016,” more than 63,600 Americans died from overdoses in 2016 – mostly from opioid-related drugs. The report found that the age-related rate of overdose deaths jumped from just over six per 100,000 standard population in 1999 to almost 20 in 2016, a more than three-fold increase.
The non-profit Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) says the rapid rise in overdose deaths is putting the country on a "worst case" scenario track - where such fatalities could reach 163,000 per year by 2025 if the growth continues at current rates.
"The escalating growth of opioid deaths is downright frightening – and it's getting worse," John Auerbach, president and CEO of TFAH, said in a release. "Every community has been impacted by this crisis and it's getting lots of headlines, yet we're not making the investments or taking the actions needed at anywhere near the level needed to turn the tide."
Here are some key findings from the CDC report, which relied on data from the National Vital Statistics System:
● The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016 (19.8 per 100,000) was 21 percent higher than the rate in 2015 (16.3).
● Among persons aged 15 and over, adults aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in 2016 at around 35 per 100,000.
● West Virginia (52.0 per 100,000), Ohio (39.1), New Hampshire (39.0), the District of Columbia (38.8), and Pennsylvania (37.9) had the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2016.
● The lowest drug death rates in 2016 were in South Dakota (8.4 per 100,000), Texas (10.1), North Dakota (10.6), Iowa (10.6) and Kansas (11.1).
● 22 states and the District of Columbia had drug overdose death rates that were higher than the national rate (19.8 per 100,000); five states had rates that were comparable to the national rate; and 23 states had lower rates
● The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000.
The CDC report was compiled by Holly Hedegaard, with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Office of Analysis and Epidemiology, and Margaret Warner and Arialdi M. Miniño, with the NCHS Division of Vital Statistics. Their report did not include suggestions on how to deal with the drug epidemic.
In a separate but related report, the CDC said the average lifespan in the U.S. dropped to 78.6 years in 2016, down one-tenth of a year from 2015, largely due to the increase in drug overdose deaths. It was the second year in a row that life expectancy fell and marked the first two-year decline since the early 1960s.
In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, which the White House said would ease regulations on how to fight the epidemic. The president, however, did not commit any new funds to deal with the drug scourge.
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