The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration unveiled findings on drug-related mortality from the 2003 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) that provide a picture of deaths involving recent drug use in six states and 32 metropolitan areas. Among the metropolitan areas, Baltimore and Albuquerque had the highest rates of drug misuse deaths, exceeding 200 deaths per one million population. Another 14 areas had drug misuse death rates that exceeded 100 deaths per one million population.
"Amazingly, the vast majority of people who need but do not receive treatment for a serious drug or alcohol problem don’t even recognize they have a problem,” SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said. "Americans must begin to confront drug use - and drug users - honestly and directly. We must encourage those in need to enter and remain in treatment before it’s too late, before they become a mortality statistic."
The DAWN mortality data indicate that the typical drug misuse death involves multiple drugs, an average of 2.7 drugs per case. Opiates, which include prescription pain relievers and heroin, were found more often than any other type of drug in 29 of the 32 metropolitan areas and all of the six states. Cocaine was the most frequently reported drug in three metropolitan areas and was in the top five drugs in 28 metropolitan areas and all six states. Alcohol was one of the five most common drugs in 30 of the 32 metropolitan areas and five of six states.
Drug-related suicide deaths were much less frequent than deaths involving drug misuse. On average, less than 20 percent of drug-related suicides involved an illicit drug. Alcohol was among the five most common drugs in drug-related suicides in all but one of the 32 metropolitan areas and five of the six states.
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United States Department of Health and Human Services