According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida had the 17th highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation in 2017, a 17 percent increase from the previous year.
That’s 25.1 deaths for every 100,000 people, and current projections estimate this will grow to 59 deaths per every 100,000 people by 2025.
Benjamin Miller, Chief Strategy Officer Well Being Trust, a mental health and drug abuse advocacy group that analyzed the CDC data along with Trust for America’s Health, said crackdowns on pain medicine prescriptions alone don’t address the issue.
“It’s not just about the number of opioids being prescribed, though I think that’s an important thing to address,” Miller said. “It’s really about social and community factors that are much harder to address.
Miller said solutions include expanding access to health insurance, especially for mental health care, and better integrating substance abuse help into primary care.
Miller said the United States has not yet prioritized investing in prevention and intervention..
“It’s not simply enough to know people are dying prematurely to drug and alcohol,’ Miller said. “We have to be able to do something. So our call to action is pretty basic – that we know there are public policies and interventions that could be done in our communities tomorrow to help with some of these problems.”
And Miller says it’s not just about health outcomes. It’s also costing the country a lot of money.
In 2014, Well Being Trusts estimates $249 billion in health care costs from about 3 point 8 percent of the population with a diagnosis related to drugs, alcohol or suicide risk.
National highlights from the report: