Drug Overdoses Driving Up Death Rate of Young Whites

Drug overdoses have boosted the death rate of young whites to levels not seen since the AIDS epidemic decades ago, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

By analyzing nearly 60 million death certificates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1990 to 2014, the Times found death rates for non-Hispanic whites either rising or flattening for all the adult age groups under 65. This was particularly true for women. At the same timed, death rates for blacks and most Hispanic groups continued to fall.

While the death rate among young whites rose for every age group over the five years before 2014, it rose faster for the less educated, by 23 percent for those without a high school education, compared with only 4 percent for those with a college degree or more.

The drug overdose numbers appeared to be a significant factor. In 2014, for instance, the overdose death rate for whites ages 25 to 34 was five times the level it had been in 1999, and the rate for 35- to 44-year-old whites tripled during that period. The numbers cover both illegal and prescription drugs.

What's striking is that the death rate for drug overdoses and suicides among whites is rising while mortality rates for chronic illnesses continue to decline.

Don't miss this week's Slice of History: Prohibition Kicks In.

Sourced from: New York Times, Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Young Whites