More than 152,000 Americans died from alcohol and drug-induced fatalities and suicide in 2017, the highest number ever recorded and more than twice as many as in 1999, a report said Thursday.
According to the latest report of Washington D.C.-based public health watchdog Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), almost half of these deaths were the result of drug overdoses.
The alarming report — Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide and the Millennial Generation, A Devastating Impact — drew attention to the negative impacts of rising alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths on all age groups and all communities, especially on youth in their 20s and early 30s.
The report said the number of drug deaths among young adults has increased by 400% during the last two decades, fueled by the opioid crisis.
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day “more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl”, partly blaming the pharmaceutical industry’s false reassurances since 1990s that drugs do not cause addiction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
TFAH research suggested that urgent, “evidence-based” measures need to be launched to tackle the “national tidal wave of deaths of despair” among the Millennials born between 1981 and 1996.
The report also mentioned a number of unique challenges the Millennials are up against such as the opioid crisis, the high costs of education and housing, and entering the competitive job market in a sluggish economy.