Sobering statistics such as those provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary (NDTA) or the information garnered from a joint effort by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) just haven't been enough to stem the tide of addiction and death from both prescription and illegal drugs.

  • The 2015 NDTA shows that for the fifth year in a row, deaths caused by drug overdoses eclipsed the number of deaths cause by motor vehicle accidents or by firearms.

  • The 2015 NDTA also provides statistics that show more people died as a result of an overdose of prescription medicine than all the deaths combined from illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and PCP.

  • The joint NIDA and NIAAA study reveal that nearly 1 in 10 people in the United States over the age of 12 either abuse substances or are dependent – addicted to them.

Groundbreaking Study by Princeton Economists

Along comes a study by two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, whose analysis reveals that the mortality rates of white men and women ages 45 to 54 have been rising since the late 1990s and are due to prescription drug overdoses, suicide and diseases related to alcohol use/abuse.

Case and Deaton determined that had this age group continued its previous rate of decline in deaths in the period 1979 to 1998, half a million fewer deaths would have occurred between 1999 to 2013. That's 500,000 deaths in this age group attributable to suicide, alcohol-related diseases and prescription overdoses.

Husband and wife Angus Deaton and Anne Case won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for this research.

Many questions face the nation about how to stem the current tide of drug addiction that is of epic proportions and what to do with those who abuse and/or are addicted to substances. Will policies begin to change to become less punitive and more about providing treatment for those with addictions?

Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey and presidential candidate for the Republican nomination has suggested that pro-life means the entire lifetime of the human being, rather than being restricted to the unborn. This provides food for thought and likely fodder for the other candidates to debate. Is America listening?

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