Why More Middle-Aged White Americans are Dying Than Ever Before

Though it may seem like more and more people are dying every year, as a whole, fewer Americans are facing death annually in the 21st century than in the 1900s.

However, this doesn’t apply to everyone in the United States. The mortality rate for middle-aged white Americans, for example, is steadily rising, while it continues to fall for other demographics of the population. Researchers are trying to figure out why.

They classify the increased mortality observed in middle-aged whites over the years as “deaths of despair.” These include suicide, drug or alcohol poisoning, and alcoholic liver disease – all causes of death whose instances have increased in this demographic over time. 

The authors of the study originally published in 2015 have updated their initial report to include a possible link between increased mortality and two additional factors: economic despair and social dysfunction.

Deaths of despair continue to increase among both men and women regardless of geographic location across the U.S. However, researchers predict that a lack of a college degrees among many middle-aged whites is a factor that could contribute to increased mortality rates.

Lacking a college degree narrows the availability of job opportunities for this segment of the population, and also seems to affect other socioeconomic factors like marital status.

More significantly, education level has a significant impact on a person’s likelihood of falling prey to drug addiction. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that those with a college degree were less likely to become addicted to drugs than those who don’t make it that far in their education.

Researchers don’t know exactly why middle-aged white Americans are so greatly affected by deaths of despair, though they have a few theories that require further study. Therefore, it is important now more than ever to provide the materials and resources necessary to help those living with addiction or a mental health issue of any kind seek treatment before it’s too late.

Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.
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