More young white males dying from drug overdoses

January 19, 2016

It is young white males who are dying from drug overdoses in the U.S., according to a New York Times analysis of death certificates.

It is young white males who are dying from drug overdoses in the U.S., according to a New York Timesanalysis of death certificates.

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“The rising death rates for those young white adults, ages 25 to 34, make them the first generation since the Vietnam War years of the mid-1960s to experience higher death rates in early adulthood than the generation that preceded it,” according to the article.

The newspaper analyzed nearly 60 million death certificates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1990 to 2014 and found that, overall, death rates for non-Hispanic whites either increased or stayed the same for all the adult age groups under aged 65. During the same time period, death rates for blacks and most Hispanic groups continued to decline.

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The death rates linked to drug overdoses – both illegal and prescription drugs – are alarming. In 2014, the overdose death rate for white people ages 25 to 34 was 5 times its level in 1999, and the rate for 35- to 44-year-old whites tripled during the same time period, according to The New York Times.

“That is startling. Those are tremendous increases,” Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the newspaper.

In addition, the death rates for drug overdoses and suicides in white males “are running counter to those of chronic diseases,” like heart disease, Ian Rockett, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University, told the newspaper.

The death rate among young whites rose faster for the less educated – by 23% for those without a high school education – compared with only 4% for those with a college degree or more.

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