The recent opioid and methamphetamine pandemics continue to sweep across the United States and now a new study has revealed that this epidemic has roots that go as far back as the 1980s.
According to a new analysis, death rates stemmed from substance abuse have surged more than 600 percent in the U.S. between 1980 and 2014. These deaths were also caused by self-harm and interpersonal violence.
“To our knowledge, this study is the first at the county level to consider drug use disorders and distinguish between intentional and unintentional overdoses,” said Dr. Laura Dwyer- Lindgren, lead author of the study and a faculty member at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Researchers revealed that there was a noticeable difference among counties when it came to mortality rates from alcohol use disorders, drug use disorders, self-harm, and interpersonal violence.
According to the study, the national rate of drug use deaths in 2014 was 10.4 people per 100 thousand, as opposed to 1.4 people in 1980.
On a geographical scale, however, the surge was even more noticeable. Nearly 100 percent of all US counties had increased numbers of deaths from drug use, although the amounts of the increases varied.
The main culprits behind the majority of deaths which occurred during this interval were opioid painkillers, both prescription and non-prescription.
To come up with these figures, researchers analyzed death records by county and used mathematical modeling techniques to figure out the impact of substance abuse on different regions. In addition, the researchers used death records obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics and the Human Mortality Database. All these different sources helped them to highlight the subtle differences in drug use that were difficult to tell initially.
According to the study, the most affected counties are in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and eastern Oklahoma. In several of these counties drugs deaths have increased by more than 5 thousand percent.
Self-harm was responsible for the death of 1.2 million people in the US, the study found. Interpersonal violence accounted for more than 760 thousand deaths and alcohol use disorder caused more than 250 thousand deaths.
Interpersonal violence dramatically decreased, overall, during the study’s course.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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