"Illicit use of heroin, cocaine and other drugs helped fuel a dramatic rise in the number of accidental and unexplained poisoning deaths in the United States, health researchers said on Thursday.
The fatality rate from poisoning, excluding suicides and murders, rose an average 145 percent between 1990 and 2001, according to data collected by 11 states and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Narcotics and hallucinogens accounted for 51 percent of these deaths."
At GCASA where I work my day job we have seen 5 deaths since last November from substance abuse.
I am reminded every time someone dies that substance abuse can be a fatal disease.
The people who died were all young. They ranged in age from 21 to 43.
As substance abuse counselors we know that what precipitated these deaths were alcohol, cocaine, oxycontin, and heroin. What will show up on the death certificiates will be heart attack, metabolic complications, etc. In the article linked below which is based on a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Center for Disease Control, they call them "poisonings" which is an accurate but unusual word. I don't know how often that people think of binge drinking, taking oxycontin for off label use, or snorting cocaine as "poisoning" but OK, I guess, it is. It certainly is "poisoning" when it inadvertently kills you.
At any rate, the report says that the number of "poisonings" have gone up in the last 10 years. This is something that is tragic because it is entirely preventable. Of course, it pales in terms of the number of Americans who die from "poisoning" their bodies with tobacco every year.
While the article says "There were 22,242 poisoning deaths in 2001 in the United States, 63 percent of which were unintentional. The overall death rate from poisonings - either intentional or unintentional - rose 56 percent between 1990 and 2001.", it is enlightening to know that 430,000 Americans die from tobacco each year. The largest group of smoking uptakers is 13 year old caucasion girls. They have no idea what they are doing to their bodies.
I wonder what the psychic pain is that leads people to poison themselves? What can we do to help people who find life so unbearable in their natural experience of it that they poison their systems to alter their mood? How can we help people to learn to live their lives without poisoning themselves?