The United States has suffered from an opioid epidemic for more than two decades, resulting in shocking statistics that are exacerbated with each passing year, and there seems to be no end in sight, despite the DEA’s best efforts to fight drug abuse.
"These statistics are really quite shocking and show how much can be lost to drug and substance abuse," Ruchi Dhami, Director of Brand & Design who oversees American Addiction Centers’ research said.
The World Health Organization calculates the impact of disease on life according to Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), which are the number of years lost and years lived with a disability. One DALY is the equivalent of one lost year of healthy human life. For example, in the U.S., for every 100,000 people, an unfortunate average of 1,178 years of healthy life are lost due to the substance abuse epidemic.
One of the most worrying statistics to emerge from the DALYs data was that overall in America, people lose on average 1.7 years of their life span because of drug and alcohol abuse.
Broken down by state, American Addiction Centers analyzed DALY data and found that the average Utahn loses 1.68 healthy years of life due to drugs and alcohol abuse. West Virginia was the state with the highest number of years lost per resident – an alarming 3.4 years – whilst Nebraska had the lowest value in comparison at just 0.9 years.
From 1990 to 2017, the total average number of healthy years lost to drug disorders in the U.S. increased exponentially over the years. In 1990, it was 1.5 million but the introduction of the drug, OxyContin, in 1996 has fueled the drug-fire in the country. By 2010, Americans had lost almost 3.5 million years of healthy life. This value spiked tremendously in the following half-decade and by 2017, the United States had lost 5.5 million years of healthy life due to drugs.
The study also found a consistent factor in the data: since the beginning of 1990, men have lost more years of their lives than their female counterparts. In 2017 alone, men lost 3.4 million years of healthy life, whilst women lost around 2 million years.
It is perturbing to find that from 2016 to 2017, each state’s number of healthy years lost increased by at least 1 percent. It was discovered that Utah had a 5.6 percent increase, which is above the national average of 4.5 percent. Montana, by comparison, had the highest percentage change in the U.S. at 10.1 percent, whilst Massachusetts had the smallest at just 0.8 percent.
Broken down by categories of substance in 2017 alone, Utahns lost:
• 28,759 healthy years to general opioid use disorders.
• 2,559 years to cocaine
• 1,796 years to amphetamines
"Addiction doesn’t have to be fought alone. There are treatment centers all over the country to help individuals recover and regain a sober, happy, healthy life," Dhami said.
The analysis is based on DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) and is based upon the latest data available. According to the study, Utah has had an increase of 5.6 percent in healthy years lost to drug abuse. On average, men have lost more years of their lives than women.