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Minnesota deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide projected to rise by almost 40% over next decade

Minnesota deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide projected to rise
If recent trends hold, about 1.6 million people in the United States will die from drugs, alcohol and suicides during the next 10 years.

Minnesota’s drug, alcohol and suicide death rate may rise by 37 percent during the next decade if current trends continue, according to a troubling report released Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust

The report says that these three causes could account for 47.3 per 100,000 deaths in Minnesota by 2025, compared to 34.5 per 100,000 in 2015.

That’s a stunning increase. But it’s not be as large as the 60 percent increase projected for the nation as a whole over the next decade.

If recent trends hold, about 1.6 million people in the United States will die from drugs, alcohol and suicides during the next 10 years (2015 to 2025), the report says. That compares with about 1 million who died from those three causes during the previous decade (2006 to 2015).

Yet the projected figures are probably conservative, the report points out. Given the recent rapid rise in heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil use, the U.S. death rate from drugs, alcohol and suicides may double by 2025 and claim 2 million lives.

“These trends are a wake-up call that there is a serious well-being crisis in this country,” the report says. “In stark terms, they are signals of serious underlying concerns facing too many Americans — about pain, despair, disconnection and lack of opportunity — and the urgent need to address them.”

“While the crises have received much attention,” the report adds,  “… the actions that have been taken to date are severely inadequate.”

The report, “Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy,” is based on an analysis by the Berkeley Research Group on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Upward trends

Here’s where Minnesota stands in relationship to the rest of the country:

  • Drug overdose deaths. Nationally, drug overdose deaths tripled between 2000 and 2015, with a total of 52,400 deaths in 2015. Rural communities were particularly devastated. Their drug overdose death rates increased seven-fold. Minnesota’s rate in 2015 was 10.6 per 100,000 people — the sixth lowest in the country.
  • Alcohol-induced deaths. Nationally, these deaths climbed to 33,200 in 2015 — a 35-year high. That number does not include deaths from injury and violence in which alcohol was a factor. Minnesota’s alcohol-induced death rate was 10.9 per 100,000 in 2015, the 23rd highest in the country.
  • Suicide deaths. The national suicide death rate in the U.S. increased 28 percent between 2000 and 2015, when 44,000 Americans took their own lives. The suicide rate in rural areas was 40 percent higher than in metro areas. Minnesota’s rate was 13.3 per 100,000 in 2015, the 14th lowest in the country. 

‘A generational crisis’

In 2016, 44.7 million American adults experienced a mental health illness, 20.1 million experienced a substance use disorder and 8.2 million experienced both — numbers that probably underestimate the scope of the problem, due to issues of stigma.

“The current system is not at all equipped to provide the services and supports to address those needs,” the report points out. Only about one in 10 Americans with substance use disorder receive recommended treatment, it adds.  

“We’re facing a generational crisis. And it calls for bigger and bolder action,” said Benjamin Miller, chief policy officer at the Well Being Trust, in a released statement. “Simply creating new programs to address one piece of the problem is insufficient — we need more robust and systematic change. The good news is: We know a lot about what works and can make a difference.”

Needed: ‘national resilience strategy’

The report calls for the creation of a “national resilience strategy,” and highlights 60 research-based policies, practices and programs that it says could reduce substance misuse and suicide.

Minnesota has already implemented many of the policies. They include laws that require prescribers to query a prescription drug monitoring program before submitting an opioid prescription, as well as ones that address bullying in the schools and that provide an earned income tax credit (which helps keep families out of poverty).

But the state falls short on many other policies that the report recommends, such as requiring annual suicide prevention training for school personnel and allowing laypersons to possess naloxone (a drug that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose) without a prescription. 

The report also notes that Minnesota lifted its Sunday ban on liquor sales earlier this year. “Reducing days and hours of alcohol sales have been shown to reduce excessive alcohol use and related harms,” the report points out.

FMI: You can read the study in full on Trust for America’s website.

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Comments (3)

If these predictions come to pass...

It will be because we don't have truly effective interventions despite all the pretense of "expertise" by those commanding our current intervention and treatment regimes. Obviously just getting more people into "treatment" isn't big solution (Unless "alerts" like this are merely marketing strategies for treatment programs).

I think we need to careful about conflating suicide with drug use as if drugs are a primary CAUSE of suicide. The relationship between depression and drug use a complex affair and needs to be approached as such. This article seems to suggest that increased drug abuse will actually cause or is currently causing the increased suicide rates. There a variety of factors that contribute to depression and suicide, directing more resources towards drug treatment as a strategy to prevent suicides may not be the most effective response.

Teacher Training

MN requires teachers, as part of their continuing education and to renew their license, to have education on the early warning signs of mental illness in children and to have one hour of suicide prevention training. The suicide training was passed in 2016 and must be based on nationally recognized evidence-based programs and practices.

About those "rates"

Another thing to consider is the fact that the actual suicide rates may not have actually increased this much. For decades we had trouble estimating the real suicide rates because suicides were under reported for a variety of reasons on death certs and elsewhere. It could be that that a significant percentage of this "increase" is just an artifact of changes in reporting. I haven't read this research, maybe they took that into account.

Likewise the definitions of "dependency" and "abuse" for drugs keeps shifting. We've certainly seen an increase in ODs but that's not necessarily due to an increase in drug use, it's because the drugs being used are more lethal. There are all kinds of problems with the metrics used by researchers in this field.