Why are so many Americans dying from the “BIG 3”?

Record Number in US Dying Due to Alcohol, Drugs, Suicide

By Jeffrey Rodack

More than 150,000 Americans died due to alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017, according a new analysis.

The total is the most ever recorded and twice as many as in 1999, said the study released Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust (WBT).

Here are key findings:

  • Synthetic opioid deaths jumped 45 percent between 2016 and 2017. They have increased 10-fold in the last five years.
  • The national rate for deaths due to alcohol, drugs and suicide increased 6 percent from 43.9 to 46.6 death per 100,000 between 2016 and 2017.
  • In 2017, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. died from synthetic-opioid overdoses every two weeks.
  • Suicides increased from 13.9 to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 between 2016 and 2017.
  • West Virginia reported the high death rates from alcohol and suicide – 9 deaths per 100,000.

“Too many of us are dying from preventable causes, and each time we make progress — like with prescription opioids — new problems — like synthetic opioids — appear,” said Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer for the WBT. “Tackling such a complex problem is not about adding up small changes – but really about transformation at a systems level.”

And John Auerbach, who heads Trust for America’s health, was quoted by USA Today as saying:  The country needs to better understand and address what drives “these devastating deaths of despair.”


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