This peculiar health crisis cannot be boiled down to one simple cause or solution, but in a new report published Friday, experts say that the opioid epidemic has "added fuel to the flames." As first highlighted by Princeton economists in 2015, the death rate for non-Hispanic, white Americans has been climbing since the late 90s.
But in 1998, something flipped, and while the death rates for everyone else—including black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans—continued to steadily drop, the death rates for middle-aged white Americans start to creep up: 0.5 percent a year, every year: They've been dubbed "deaths of despair," due to the high number of overdose and suicide deaths.
While many experts supposed it's linked to a worsening economy and lower incomes, Case and Deaton say their analysis shows it's not so simple.
Read more: Trump Promised to End the Opioid Epidemic, But His Budget Will Make It Worse Though focusing on the opioid epidemic won't solve the issue of rising death rates for middle-aged white Americans, Case and Deaton argue that it's certainly not a bad place to start.
But despite pledging to eradicate the opioid epidemic, Trump's proposed budget fails to address the primary factors impacting opioid addiction, focusing on law enforcement over treatment services.