New Study Finds Trends in Overdose Deaths over 38 Year Period

A new study has just been published in Science.Org magazine detailing the progression of addiction in the United States from 1979 to 2016. Named "Changing dynamics of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States from 1979 through 2016," it records the deaths from 600,000 overdoses during that 38-year period.

The results are more disturbing because one fact emerges: no matter the drug of choice for those who overdosed, or even the demographic backgrounds of those who overdosed, the mortality rate has increased every year since 1979. Even more alarming: Even if, for example, the current opioid crises begins to be dealt with, the trajectory is such that deaths from that same drug would not lessen.

Indeed, more than 70,000 died from overdoses in 2017, and nearly 70% of those are were from heroin, opioids, and fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Near the end of the study, one of the key items that stands out is that "Sociological and psychological 'pull' forces may be operative to accelerate demand, such as despair, loss of purpose, and dissolution of communities." In other words, the loss of good jobs with benefits, as well as neighborhoods where people felt like they lived among an actual community, are impacting overdoses and addiction.

The abstract of the study stated: "Better understanding of the dynamics of the current U.S. overdose epidemic may aid in the development of more effective prevention and control strategies. We analyzed records of 599,255 deaths from 1979 through 2016 from the National Vital Statistics System in which accidental drug poisoning was identified as the main cause of death. By examining all available data on accidental poisoning deaths back to 1979 and showing that the overall 38-year curve is exponential, we provide evidence that the current wave of opioid overdose deaths (due to prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) may just be the latest manifestation of a more fundamental longer-term process. The 38+ year smooth exponential curve of total U.S. annual accidental drug poisoning deaths is a composite of multiple distinctive subepidemics of different drugs (primarily prescription opioids, heroin, methadone, synthetic opioids, cocaine, and methamphetamine), each with its own specific demographic and geographic characteristics."

Reference: https://bigthink.com/druge-overdose-study?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2

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