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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Addiction and "Deaths of Despair" in America

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In 2015, a paper was published regarding rising mortality rates in the U.S. involving drug overdose, alcohol, and suicide. The groundbreaking article appeared in the National Academy of Science’s magazine.

The research paper, interestingly, did not come from leaders in public health, but instead from two economists. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that the mortality rate was most pronounced in one specific demographic: middle-aged non-Hispanic whites without a college degree.

In 2017, Case and Deaton followed up on their findings; they suggested that a large portion of America never recovered from the 2008 recession, The Guardian reports. Families that were no longer able to earn a living without a college degree were linked to rising overdose, suicide, and substance use-related deaths. In their update, Case and Deaton coined a phrase that stuck: “deaths of despair.”

While drugs, alcohol, and mental illness are driving forces in premature death, the crisis many people face is that of despair. When someone experiences the complete loss or absence of hope, they are likely to want to escape. Others too, have conducted similar research on why people turn to drugs and alcohol when life becomes exceedingly harder and harder to bear.

The author Johann Hari published a book called “Chasing the Scream” that dealt with drivers of addiction. He writes that environment and life-circumstances (e.g., stable home life and employment) play a significant role in the development of addiction.

When men and women feel cut off from society and the American Dream, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. Naturally, this subject matter is nuanced—many factors play a role in the alarming trends.

Deaths of Despair are Up Nationally


Alcohol and substance use disorder and other forms of mental illness are treatable. Millions of Americans are working programs of addiction recovery and receiving mental health services. However, accessing care continues to be a severe problem in several areas of the United States.

The Commonwealth Fund, which tracks health performance in each state, found a correlation between deaths of despair and poor scorecards. The data shows that suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths have reached an all-time high; and, understanding why could lead to solutions.

The organization analyzed 47 factors that have an impact on health outcomes for a new report, NBC News reports. Insurance coverage and access to doctors were two of the elements. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont ranked the highest. Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi received the lowest rankings.

“When we look at what’s going on in mid-Atlantic states — West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania — those are the states that have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country,” said David Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund. “The rate of growth in drug overdose deaths in West Virginia is absolutely mind-boggling.” 

Health care coverage is what separates the states with the highest score from those with the lowest, according to the article. The states at the bottom of the list all had the highest number of uninsured residents. California ranked 14th.

 “We really think of health care access of being the foundation of a high-performing health care system,” Radley said.

SLO County California Addiction Treatment

 

The Haven at Pismo can assist men and women who are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We offer many different programs to cater to the unique needs of each client. Our evidence-based addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about The Haven difference.