STUMP » Articles » Movember 2022: Men and Drug Overdoses (and Giving Tuesday!) » 29 November 2022, 03:39

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Movember 2022: Men and Drug Overdoses (and Giving Tuesday!)  


29 November 2022, 03:39

Yeah, I’m a real angel of light, aren’t I?

But before I lose you, let me shake the tin can at you.

Movember Fundraiser

First, here are the places you can donate to the Movember Foundation, which supports men’s health, specifically focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s mental health:

And here is a little extra:

I call it blue meep group.

If you want to think of other happy things, I’ve added to my happy things twitter thread.

The drug overdose trend is even worse than the suicide trend

Yeah, as I said, I will be a true angel of light here.

Remember the graph I made showing the suicide trend for men crossing over from prostate cancer?

Let me layer on unintentional drug overdoses:

Yeah, it’s as bad as it looks.

While death rates due to suicide increased by about 30% over the 20-year period, death rates due to unintentional drug overdoses increased by over 500%.

None of this is really a surprise. I’ve written about the drug OD problem many times before, which had a horrible trend before the pandemic and got much, much worse during the pandemic.

Much of the increase came in 2020 and 2021 — over 30% in 2020, and 17% in 2021. These are huge increases on rates that were already bad.

I just hadn’t written specifically about the sex-related dimension of the problem.

The Sex gap for drug OD deaths

I won’t do a ratio this time – mainly because it’s quite boring.

Both female and male death rates due to unintentional drug overdoses are growing about as rapidly, so the ratio between these rates stays about level. The male rate is about 2.5 times the female rate.

The male trajectory is more dramatic, but both are showing the same total percentage increase over the period, more or less.

Age trajectory shows both young and middle-aged men are affected

I’ve shown this before, but the age structure for drug OD deaths is interesting — the peak is at age 35-44. I restricted this just for males.

It is interesting how rapidly these rates drop off over age 65. One can see this is not necessarily a case of painkiller use run amok, though it can also be a situation where those over age 65, being on Medicare, are more likely to get surgical intervention for issues and thus will finally get knee or hip surgery they needed when middle-aged but perhaps didn’t have the money to take care of.

There may be a survivorship issue as well — those hooked on painkillers may not make it to age 65.

That said, the age 65-74 years old group is trending upward with drug OD deaths, too. Just not at high a level as the younger men.

It may be that we have multiple groups mixed in here, which is why we have both older groups who are self-medicating physical pain perhaps, and younger groups who may be using drugs recreationally or to self-medicate mental and emotional problems (which the older folks could be doing as well… but those of us who are middle age know how our bodies start to betray us in so many ways.)

That said, given the growth rate in deaths, this is mostly driven by the deadliness of fentanyl more than the aging of the population, it seems. Not all drug use is a mental/emotional health issue — it can just be a poor choice that ends poorly for some. But it is interesting to me that the age 25-34 years old among men have the same drug OD death rate as those age 45-54. Interesting trajectory, hmm?

Earlier drug OD posts

Here are some of my prior posts on drug OD death rate trends.

Drug Overdoses, Part 1: High-Level Trends, 1999-2020

Drug Overdose Deaths, Part 2: U.S. Age-Related Trends 1999-2020 with Provisional Results in 2021

Drug Overdose Deaths, Part 3: Geographical Differences for 2019 and 2020

Excess Mortality For Working Age Adults Way Up in Third Quarter of 2021, Driven By Covid and Drug Overdoses

Movember fundraiser again

So you don’t have to scroll up: