The U.S. is experiencing a decline in life expectancy, particularly among rural white males in their most productive years. Appalachia is disproportionally represented in mortality rates, accounting for 30% of the U.S. population, but 50% of the excess mortality attributed to the “deaths of despair”: drug overdose, suicide, and alcoholic cirrhosis. A substantial proportion of that excess mortality is related to the current opioid crisis we are experiencing. We have data on evidence-based solutions to the treatment of addiction, but little information on prevention of addiction as well as the other deaths of despair, likely with the same etiologic agent. We must focus on finding the root cause of the current epidemic, so that we can prevent this devastating mortality.
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Scutchfield FD. Root causes of Appalachia’s deaths of despair. J Appalach Health 2019;1(2):1-6. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0102.01