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For Lack of a Mission: Drugs, ‘Deaths of Despair,’ and the Increase of Mortality in Obama’s U.S.A.

Dec. 12, 2016 (EIRNS)—Deaths from drug overdoses were one leading factor driving the stunning increase of mortality rates and decrease in life expectancies in the U.S. reported yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Overdose deaths from all drugs rose 11% in 2015, with more than 52,000 Americans dying from this Dark Age epidemic. Heroin deaths rose 23% in one year (reaching almost 13,000); deaths from synthetic opioids by 73% (nearing 10,000); deaths from prescription painkillers, the largest killer, increased by 4%. Overdose deaths far exceeded deaths in car crashes (almost 38,000) or by guns, homicides and suicides combined, even as these deaths rose significantly also.

A shocked Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Associated Press: "I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times."

Dr. Jiaquan Xu, lead author of the CDC mortality study, also cited the opioid epidemic as a significant factor in the overall increase in mortality, the website STAT reported. Pointing to the rise in such preventable causes of death generally, Xu noted that "what’s really significant is that these things are happening more to people of younger ages," which impacts life expectancy estimates more significantly.

The last time mortality increased slightly in the U.S. was in 1993, according to Xu (with HIV/AIDS then a major factor), but declines in life expectancy are neither natural nor normal, but have always been the starkest markers of civilizations falling into a dark age throughout human history. Americans today are dying because their nation has been dying, stripped of any commitment to fostering the General Welfare of the human species, under 16 years of Bush/Cheney/Obama destruction.

On Dec. 10, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health published an article in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, reporting a study which found—lo and behold—that unemployment is a factor in non-medical use of prescription opioids and stimulants, with higher rates of abuse also affecting people with only part-time employment. Unemployed young adults, ages 26-34, are at greatest risk, the study found.

As the smashing defeat of Hillary Clinton in the presidential election demonstrated, most Americans did not need an academic study to understand this. Shannon Monnat, an assistant professor and research associate at Penn State University, just published a study which found a strong vote for Trump—lo and behold—in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates, many of those counties having experienced significant losses in employment in manufacturing over recent decades.

Scioto County, Ohio, which became the pain pill-mill capital of America, typifies her findings: Before the 1990’s, it was the home of shoe, steel, brickyard, nuclear energy and soda factories; today, it houses pawn shops and scrap yards. Scioto County’s drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rate more than doubled between 1999 and 2014 (from 32.9 to 74.8 per 100,000). Trump got 33% more of the county’s vote than Romney did.

As Monnat put it, Trump received great support "in America’s new post-industrial ‘heroin beltway’," places where "good jobs and the dignity of work have been replaced by suffering, hopelessness and despair," where "downward mobility is the new normal."

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