Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Rise in 26 States

In a number of states, especially the ones hardest hit by prescription opioid abuse, drastic measure have been taken to curb the problem. While such efforts have shown promise, such as prescription drug monitoring programs and greater access to naloxone, many states are still seeing a rise in overdose deaths. New research suggests that the number of drug overdose deaths rose in 26 states between 2009 and 2013, Reuters reports. Only six states saw a decrease in overdose deaths during the same time period.

The study was conducted by the nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their findings indicated that an estimated 44,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2013, a figure which is more than double the number found in 1999. Drug overdoses were responsible for more deaths in 36 states than motor vehicle-related deaths, according to the article.

In 2013, almost 52 percent of overdose deaths were related to prescription drugs. The two types of prescription drugs that were linked to the majority of overdoses were opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Xanax ® (alprazolam). The study found that more than 16,000 deaths were related to opioids and almost 7,000 were tied to benzodiazepines and sleep medications.

The report clearly shows the need for more access and training to the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®. There are 34 states and D.C. which have laws in place to expand access to, and use of, naloxone, according to the study. 

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment 

If you are currently struggling with prescription drugs, and are need of help, please do not hesitate to contact Harmony Foundation to begin the journey of recovery. Harmony is a state-of-the-art, affordable, residential addiction treatment program located in the Rocky Mountains.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation

Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders in America

In the United States, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) affect millions of people each year, more than any other mental health disorder. While alcohol is the most commonly used mind altering substance, the number of people with an AUD who actually seek help is quite low. New research suggests the between 2012-13 there were approximately 32.6 million people with AUDs, but only 7.7 percent sought treatment for their illness, JAMA Psychiatry reports.

 What is an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

The medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” is given when problem drinking becomes severe. In order to be diagnosed as having AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). In the 5th edition some changes were made to the criteria of AUDs, including:

  • The elimination of separate abuse and dependence diagnoses.
  • The combination of the criteria into a single alcohol use disorder diagnosis.
  • The elimination of legal problems as an indicator.
  • The addition of craving to the criteria.
  • A diagnostic threshold of at least two criteria.
  • The establishment of a severity metric based on the criteria count, i.e. mild, moderate, or severe.

The Prevalence of AUDs in America

Researcher Bridget F. Grant, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD., and coauthors analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)-III, according to the article. The total sample size was 36,309 adults.

The researchers found that, under the DSM-5, the 12-month prevalence of AUDs was 13.9 percent and the lifetime prevalence was 29.1 percent. The finding represents approximately 32.6 million and 68.5 million adults, respectively. Only 7.7 percent of people with an AUD over a 12-month period sought treatment, and only 19.8 percent of adults with lifetime AUDs sought help.

Young Adults With AUDs

The study showed that the prevalence of AUDs was highest among male respondents (17.6 percent 12-month prevalence, 36 percent lifetime prevalence), as well as who those who were younger (26.7 percent 12-month prevalence, 37 percent lifetime prevalence).

“Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policy makers about AUD [alcohol use disorder] and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment,” the study concludes.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are a young adult struggling with alcohol, and potentially meet the criteria of an alcohol use disorder, we encourage you to take a look at our Young Adult Recovery Track. Our program focuses on the specific needs of young people looking to find a new way of life through recovery.

Addiction and recovery news provided by Harmony Foundation