Alcohol and drug abuse are expensive and deadly

Published 10:39 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In the past, I have written on the subject of alcohol and drug abuse for this paper and other major news entities. Americans are drinking more alcohol and using more drugs to get high. As I have written before, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts everything in proper perspective. The agency reports that from 2006-2010 there were nearly 88,000 deaths, resulting in 2.5 million years of potential life lost from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2013, alcohol was responsible for 10,076 deaths on our highways.

The cost of alcoholism misuse and related problems is also very expensive costing more $223.5 billion. Almost three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that when our kids leave home for college, they tend to engage oftentimes in binge drinking. In 2013, 39 percent of college students ages 18-22 engaged in heavy drinking to the extent of becoming intoxicated. The consequences of their actions can be catastrophic. Each year it is estimated that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 -24 die from alcohol related injuries, which includes automobile crashes. College students truly do get into a lot of trouble while drinking and nearly 97,000 of them report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. The data related to alcohol abuse does not reveal any measurable improvement for 2017.

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids jumped by 80 percent in 2014 over the previous year, the CDC said, suggesting much of the increase may reflect the greater availability of illegally made fentanyl. In Ohio, fentanyl overdoses jumped to 514 in 2014 from 92 a year earlier. The most potent narcotic known, it is a man-made opioid, 50 times stronger than heroin, and 100 times more so than morphine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website.

The question is, why would a person risk their life knowing the dangers of fentanyl? For opioid users, the answer is simple — it is the ultimate “high.” Many Americans believe it. The opioid epidemic has been particularly cruel and devastating in the New England states. In Massachusetts, government officials were shocked when they discovered that during the first half of 2015 more than 684 people lost their lives to opioid abuse. Playing with fentanyl is like playing a game of Russian roulette.  Even getting it on your skin can potentially have deadly consequences.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed opioid legislation (SB121, SB 88, and HB249) that he hopes will enable and empower law-enforcement to “more effectively fight the ongoing opioid epidemic that impacts individuals, families and communities across Georgia.”

Glenn Dowell is an author and columnist who lives in Jonesboro