On May 24, 2023, Trust for America’s Health released its annual report, “Pain in the Nation 2023: The Epidemics of Alcohol, Drug, and Suicide Deaths.” The report finds that the rate of U.S. deaths due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide climbed 11 percent in 2021 to a record 209,225 deaths. Key findings include:
- Drug overdose deaths increased by 14 percent between 2020 and 2021, with larger increases among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, American Indian/Alaska Native people, and among youth and older adults. For the year, drug overdose rates were highest among adults ages 35 to 54, males, Black people, and young adults ages 18 to 34.
- Alcohol-induced deaths increased by 10 percent between 2020 and 2021, with the highest increases among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Latino people, and American Indian/Alaska Native people.
- Suicide mortality increased by 4 percent between 2020 and 2021, with the highest increases among American Indian/Alaska Native people and Black people.
- Over the last decade, alcohol, drug, and suicide deaths among youth ages 10 to 17 increased by 65 percent. American Indian/Alaska Native and LGBTQ youth are most at risk for poor mental health and suicidal behaviors.
Recommendations from the report include:
- Invest in Prevention: Support programs and conditions that promote health, prevent adverse childhood experiences and provide trauma-informed services, prioritize student mental health, and strengthen crisis intervention programs, including the 988 crisis lifeline.
- Prevent Substance Misuse and Overdose: Back syringe service programs, increase availability of naloxone and fentanyl test strips, and expand funding for prevention programs for youth through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
- Transform Mental Health and Substance Use Care: Increase access to mental health and substance use healthcare by fully enforcing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, integrating mental health and substance use treatment with other healthcare services, and expanding culturally and linguistically appropriate care for populations of color and other underserved populations.