The numbers of deaths due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide has continuously been on the rise and in 2017, it was the highest number since records of these numbers began. The percent of deaths related to alcohol, drugs, and suicide rose from 43 up to 46 deaths per 100,000 deaths. Though this rise was slower than in previous years, it is still the highest number that it has been.
It, sadly, is no surprise that these numbers continue to rise, as the country continues to fail at alleviating the issue. The real issue is identifying the underlying causes to drinking, using drugs, and increases thoughts of suicide. Some people feel that the increase in social media and virtual connectivity has led to an increase in loneliness and a lack of compassion for others. Feeling isolated can often lead to an increase in other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Further, as social media use increases, there is a rise in bullying which further isolates people.
Aside from isolation, social media has added a glow to everyone’s life; only posting the best of the best and often times that means being out, socializing or partying. This glow normalizes and endorses drinking and drug use, making feel like that is what they have to do to fit in.
The health and well-being trust has proposed of a few initiatives that would hopefully help to decrease these numbers. The first is to spend more money on programs that increase child resilience and decrease risk factors in order to decrease overall adverse childhood experiences. The more adverse childhood experiences a person has, the more likely they are to have a substance use disorder or mental health disorder. Another suggestion is to increase policies surrounding safe keeping medications and firearms in order to minimize the access to methods used for suicide. The final suggestion is to increase services to raise awareness about addiction and overdose and to ultimately reduce the risk of the two.
At Morris County Prevention is Key and CARES, we work towards these same policy suggestions. Morris County Prevention is Key provides prevention programs to students in Morris County from ages seven (7) to fourteen (14), as well as to older adults in the community and families. These prevention programs work on building coping and communication skills while also, in an age appropriate manner, introducing the concept of addiction and how serious it is. CARES works on raising awareness about addiction through narcan trainings, various support meetings, and working directly with those who struggle with addiction and their families. The non-profit as a whole also works towards enhancing policy throughout the county, such as encouraging each municipality to have a secure medication drop box for all unused or expired medications.
If you are interested in programs offered through Morris County Prevention is Key, call (973)625-1998. For inquiries about CARES, call (973)625-1143.