Report sees surge in U.S. drug, alcohol, suicide deaths

In New Hampshire, death rate is among highest in nation

If recent trends continue, deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide in New Hampshire could soar by over 45 percent through 2025 – one of the largest increases in the nation – according to a newly released report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust.

According to the report, “Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy,” deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide nationally could account for 1.6 million fatalities through 2025.

That represents a 60 percent increase compared to the previous decade, based on an analysis conducted by the Berkeley Research Group. From 2006 to 2015, there were 1 million deaths from these three causes.

The report projects that by 2025 there will be 88.1 deaths per 100,000 from drugs, alcohol and suicide in New Hampshire – the fourth-highest rate in the nation, behind only New Mexico (105.7), West Virginia (99.6), and Wyoming (88.8).

In 2015, according to the report, there were 60.6 drug, alcohol and suicide deaths per 100,000 in New Hampshire, the fifth-highest rate in the nation.

Nationally, in 2015, there were a total of 127,500 deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide.

According to the report's projections, this could reach 192,000 per year by 2025 (39.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2015 compared to 55.9 per 100,000 in 2025).

At a state level, in 2005, 21 states and Washington, D.C. had death rates from these three causes above 30 per 100,000, and only six states had death rates above 40 per 100,000.

As of 2015, 48 states and Washington, D.C. had rates above 30 per 100,000, 30 were above 40 per 100,000 and five states had rates above 60 per 100,000, including New Hampshire.

By 2025, 26 states could reach 60 deaths per 100,000 – and New Mexico and West Virginia could reach rates of 100 deaths per 100,000.

But the study found that the projections may actually be low, especially with the rapid rise of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil use. If the nation continues along recent trajectories, death rates would actually double to 2 million by 2025, according to the report.

‘Serious crisis’

According to the report, between 2000 and 2015, drug overdose deaths tripled nationally, with a total of 52,400 deaths in 2015 and rural community opioid-related death rates increased sevenfold.

Alcohol-induced deaths increased 37 percent between 2000 and 2015, reaching a 35-year high, at 33,200 deaths in 2015. This excludes alcohol-attributable deaths related to injury and violence;

Suicide deaths increased by 28 percent between 2000 and 2015 to more than 44,000 deaths (as of 2015). Rural suicide rates are 40 percent higher than in metro areas, according to the report.

"These numbers are staggering, tragic – and preventable," said John Auerbach, president and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health. "There is a serious crisis across the nation and solutions must go way beyond reducing the supply of opioids, other drugs and alcohol. Greater steps that promote prevention, resiliency and opportunity must be taken to address the underlying issues of pain, hopelessness and despair."

The report calls for the creation of a “National Resilience Strategy” that takes a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention, early identification of issues and effective treatment. Among its recommendations:

 • Improve pain management and treatment by acknowledging that there are different types of pain and experts from mental health, medical care and other disciplines must develop team-based solutions that focus on proactively addressing pain before it gets worse.

 • Stem the opioid crisis with a full-scale approach that includes promoting responsible opioid prescribing practices, public education about misuse and safe disposal of unused drugs, “hotspot” intervention strategies, anti-trafficking to stop the flow of heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs and expanding the use and availability of rescue drugs, sterile syringes and diversion programs.

 • Address the impact of the opioid epidemic on children using a multi-generational response that includes substance use disorder treatment for parents, wraparound services for children and families, and expanded support for the foster care system.

 • Reduce excessive alcohol use through evidence-based policies, such as increasing pricing, limiting hours and density of alcohol sales, enforcing underage drinking laws, and holding sellers and hosts liable for serving minors. • Prevent suicide by expanding crisis-intervention services, anti-bullying and social-emotional learning in schools, support systems for veterans and better integrating mental health into primary care.

 • Expand and modernize mental health and substance use disorder treatment services by prioritizing innovative integrated delivery models for rural and underserved urban areas and expanding the provider workforce,

 • Prioritize prevention, reduce risk factors and promote resilience in children, families and communities by limiting trauma and adverse experiences, which have the biggest long-term impact on later substance misuse, and promoting better mental health.

 • Scale up evidence-based life- and coping-skills programs and increasing the availability of mental health and other services in schools.

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