Report: Substance Abuse Death Rates in North Texas Outpacing State and National Averages

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that more than 15,000 people die from prescription opioid overdose each year, while 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related injuries. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that substance abuse costs the country $232 billion each year, with $740 billion lost in crime and lost work productivity.

North Texas counties have higher death rates due to drug and alcohol misuse than state and national average, according to a report from the North Texas Community Health Collaborative. The Substance Abuse/Misuse Community Needs Assessment Report of North Texas report showed that eleven regional counties have higher substance abuse death rates than the state average, while seven have higher death rates than the national average.

The study looked at 16 counties across North Texas and will guide organizations to better target resources and improve substance abuse treatment and prevention in the region. It showed that the North Texas babies were more likely to suffer from drug toxicity than the national average, while North Texas had nearly double the state rate and nearly quadruple the national rate of uninsured substance abusers who received treatment.

Rural counties in North Texas experienced higher death rates from drugs and alcohol compared to state and national averages, while Dallas and Tarrant county’s rates were well below average. The study showed that 80 percent of the healthcare in North Texas is delivered in urban counties.

Inadequate access to health services can subject rural residents to a variety of health risks,” Dr. Sushma Sharma, director of population health research at the DFWHC Foundation said via release. “This is concerning particularly for vulnerable groups, such as those suffering from substance misuse. Two important goals of this report are to create awareness on the potential health risks of rural residents in addition to the over-crowding of our urban hospitals.”

The study analyzed 2017 patient demographic data for Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Rockwall, Somervell, Tarrant and Wise Counties, and used DFWHC Foundation’s patient data warehouse that includes patient information from more than 95 facilities.

“Our goal is to promote collaborative efforts within the community,” said Catherine Oliveros, vice president of community health improvement at Texas Health Resources and chair of the Community Health Collaborative via release. “Substance misuse is a public health challenge that affects many of our communities. With the information available through this report, we have an opportunity to bring communities together to promote data-driven solutions across North Texas.”

“This is the first time such a detailed study on North Texas alcohol and drug misuses has been produced,” Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation President Kristin Tesmer said via release. “We now have a better understanding of areas of need when attempting to improve awareness and strengthen treatment and care. This report allows us to more accurately set strategic goals in North Texas.”

More detailed stats from the report are below.

  • Ellis, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Johnson, Kaufman, Navarro, Parker, Somervell and Wise counties have an overall average of deaths attributed to drugs/alcohol of 965.6 per 100,000 residents, higher than the state average of 699.9 per 100,000;
  • Erath, Grayson, Hood, Hunt, Navarro, Somervell and Wise counties have an overall average of deaths attributed to drugs/alcohol of 1051.4 deaths per 100,000 residents, higher than the U.S. average of 863.8 per 100,000;
  • Dallas and Tarrant counties had an overall average of deaths attributed to drugs/alcohol of 635.25 deaths per 100,000 residents, well below state and national averages;
  • Nine out of every 1,000 babies born in North Texas suffered from drug toxicity, above CMS’ estimates in the U.S. of 6 out of 1,000;
  • Opioids (to include Codeine and Vicodin) were the number one prescribed medication in North Texas with a total of 4,840,563 dispensed prescriptions; Benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax) were the second most with a total of 1,840,039;
  • An average of 33 percent of drug/alcohol misuse patients did not have health insurance, compared to overall Texas averages of 17 percent and U.S. averages of 8.8 percent;
  • An average of 76 percent of misuse cases in North Texas were attributed to nicotine addiction.

The full report can be found here.