If the death rate from the flu quadrupled in Connecticut over a four-year period, there would be outrage and demand for immediate action. But what happened when opioid-related deaths more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2016, from 5.7 to 24.5 deaths per 100,000 persons? Although the opioid crisis has certainly garnered significant media attention and public recognition, the skyrocketing opioid death rate hasn’t elicited the same outrage we would expect to see from other public health crises, such as deaths from infectious disease.
Achieving good health isn’t just about managing your blood pressure, controlling your weight or staying away from tobacco – although all of these are important. Good health is actually much more complex and includes social and emotional dimensions in addition to the physical. For example, where you live matters. The safety of your neighborhood, the quality of your schools, your access to transportation and other “social determinants” can all affect your health.