A detailed and impressive study finds dramatically increased alcohol use disorders in the US in the past decade.

Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, regular high-risk drinking increased by almost 30%, and the number of people meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder grew by 49.4%.

What else do we know about the health of Americans in the past few years?

We know that there has been a startling increase in death from opioid use.

Opiate deaths have gotten a great deal of attention, but what seems to be less often noted is that studies have found that this increase in opiate deaths occurs in the context of an overall increase in drug overdose deaths as well as suicide rates.

Studies have suggested that many “accidental overdose deaths” may actually be suicides. In other words that the magnitude of the increase in suicidality in this country is being under-reported.Self Harm and Suicide Rates

In fact, in 2015, the American death rate – the age-adjusted share of Americans dying- rose slightly for the first time since 1999.

All of these statistics sound rather familiar, they mirror (although, so far, in a much attenuated form) the changes in overall health indicators that occurred during the collapse of Russian communism. Speaking about the dramatic changes in public health during that period, Lincoln Chen, et al wrote…

“The responsible causes are probably a combination of historical and contemporary forces: catch-up effects from previous lifestyle risks… and current turmoil characterized by economic impoverishment, widening social inequality, and the breakdown of political institutions.”

It is not too much of a leap to suggest that the increase in self-harm in this country may also reflect our “widening social inequality and the breakdown of political institutions…”

For More Information

Where is the Outrage about Suicide?

Self Injury is the 8th Leading Cause of Death

References

Grant BF, Chou SP, Saha TD, Pickering RP, Kerridge BT, Ruan WJ, Huang B, Jung J, Zhang H, Fan A, Hasin DS. Prevalence of 12-Month Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking, and DSM-IV Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013 Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related ConditionsJAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 09, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2161

Madras BK. The Surge of Opioid Use, Addiction, and Overdoses Responsibility and Response of the US Health Care SystemJAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(5):441–442. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0163

Lytle MC, Silenzio VMB, Caine ED. Are There Still Too Few Suicides to Generate Public Outrage?. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(10):1003–1004. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1736

Rockett IRH, Lilly CL, Jia H, Larkin GL, Miller TR, Nelson LS, Nolte KB, Putnam SL, Smith GS, Caine ED. Self-injury Mortality in the United States in the Early 21st CenturyA Comparison With Proximally Ranked DiseasesJAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(10):1072–1081. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1870

The Upsurge of Mortality in Russia: Causes and Policy Implications. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/243771872_The_Upsurge_of_Mortality_in_Russia_Causes_and_Policy_Implications [accessed Aug 14, 2017].