WASHINGTON, DC —(Pinkston News Service)—Another grim COVID-19 milestone was reached in 2020 as more than 180,000 Americans succumbed to drugs, alcohol or suicide in the first year of the pandemic. This represents a 20% death rate increase from 2019 and is the highest number of substance misuse deaths ever recorded in a single year. These were the findings of a report released in May 2022 by two leading national mental health organizations, Well Being Trust and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).
The Well Being Trust/TFAH “Pain in the Nation 2022” annual report also found that deaths resulting from these factors were particularly prevalent among young adults and in communities of color.
“The story behind the data is beyond devastating and heartbreaking to those families who have suffered loss,” said Well Being Trust President Dr. Benjamin F. Miller, in a May 24 news release.
The report also found that with the exception of New Hampshire, alcohol, drug and suicide death rates rose in all states and the District of Columbia, with drug and alcohol-induced deaths increasing nationally by 30% and 27% respectively. The combined death rate in a single year also surpassed 100 deaths per 100,00 residents in West Virginia and New Mexico, a first on record. The prevalence and use of synthetic opioids and psychostimulants contributed to the rising drug-induced death rate, according to the findings.
A summary and full report can be found at: https://pitn.org/.
Founded in 2017, Well Being Trust (www.wellbeingtrust.org) is an independent 501(c)(3) philanthropy organization “dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the United States,” according to the organization’s website. It counts as its main goal to save the lives of 100,000 people over the next decade. The nonprofit, non-partisan Trust for America’s Health (www.tfah.org) is a public health policy, research and advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of human health and well-being.
The report also outlines key recommendations to help federal, state and local policy makers reverse these trends. Among them include: expanding the CDC’s comprehensive suicide-prevention efforts; reducing the availability of illicit drugs and unnecessary prescriptions and increasing access to mental health and substance use healthcare through full enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
“It is imperative that officials at every level of government act on the recommended policies in this report,” said J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., MSCE, President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health.
People who need help with drug or alcohol addiction can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The National Suicide Pervention Hotline is 800-273-TALK (8255).