Interesting new study documents rising death rates among white, middle-aged Americans. The cause of death is being attributed to substance abuse, especially of alcohol and opiates. But notice that the explanation for the increased substance abuse is joint and neurological PAIN:
Gina Kolata, Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds, The New York Times, November 2, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/health/death-rates-rising-for-middle-aged-white-americans-study-finds.html?emc=edit_th_20151103&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=32962000&_r=0I think the solution is not to focus exclusively on substance abuse but rather to address the chronic joint and neurological pain that is probably a major factor driving substance abuse.
Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans. Unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.
That finding was reported Monday by two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton, who last month won the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, and Anne Case
Dr. Case, investigating indicators of poor health, discovered that middle-aged people, unlike the young and unlike the elderly, were reporting more pain in recent years than in the past. A third in this group reported they had chronic joint pain over the years 2011 to 2013, and one in seven said they had sciatica. Those with the least education reported the most pain and the worst general health...
...With the pain and mental distress data, Dr. Deaton said, “we had the two halves of the story.” Increases in mortality rates in middle-aged whites rose in parallel with their increasing reports of pain, poor health and distress, he explained. They provided a rationale for the increase in deaths from substance abuse and suicides.
Substance abuse, in my opinion, is the symptom that exacerbates the condition, not the exclusive cause.