As Bloomberg reports, numerous recent studies all point to a disturbing trend in the mortality rates of middle-aged white Americans. And the big driver of this mortality shift can be directly attributed to the opioid epidemic in this country, and as these reports discovered, many of these opioid overdoses may not be the result of economic troubles.
From an interview in Atlantic, one study co-author, Angus Deaton, said:
“People who die of opioid overdoses are not trying to kill themselves. It really is this business where if you relapse, you die. And that’s not true for alcohol or other things.”
Scott Winship and his team at Utah Senator Mike Lee’s Social Capital Project have publish several animated maps of overdose rates, and it’s shocking the difference in opioid overdoses from state to state. In California, rural mountain counties away from big cities have seen the most deaths. In New York, it’s the New York City suburbs that have bee impacted the most. In Ohio, the epidemic has effected the entire state.
Signs have emerged that the spread of this opioid epidemic may have considerable economic implications, and as Princeton economist Alan Krueger writes:
“[The] labor force participation is lower and fell more in the 2000s in areas of the U.S. that have higher volume of opioid medication prescribed per capita than in other areas. Although some obvious suspects can be ruled out… it is unclear whether other factors underlying low labor force participation could have caused the high prescription rates of opioids in certain counties. Regardless of the causality, the opioid crisis and depressed labor force participation are now intertwined in many parts of the U.S.”
That drugs, and the pharmaceutical industry that pushes them, have caused this issue is shocking, and the medical community has taken note. Opioid prescriptions are declining, though opioid overdose deaths continue to rise.
Washington too has taken acted to aide in stopping this epidemic. President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency in early August, a designation that offers states and federal agencies more resources and power to combat the epidemic.
Read the full report at Bloomberg.