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READ: Opioids Account for the Decrease in US Life Expectancy

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that life expectancy in the United States dropped significantly as the number of deaths increased due to drug overdoses.


According to Business Insider, there were 42,249 deaths in 2016 due to drug overdose, primarily from opioids. The spike in deaths influenced the life expectancy to lower for the second year in a row, an anomaly that hasn't occurred since the 1960s.

Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics gave a stern warning on National Public Radio, saying, "The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it."

The average life expectancy age fell from 78.7 in 2015, to 78.6 in 2016, and while statistically it doesn't seem like an extraordinary difference, Anderson put it into perspective.

For any individual, that's not a whole lot. But when you're talking about it in terms of a population, you're talking about a significant number of potential lives that aren't being lived.

In a CDC report, drug overdose-related deaths in 2016 tripled the number of reported deaths in 1999 with more than 63,600 deaths. The demographic with the highest rates of overdose deaths in the same year included adults aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54.

Anderson also said the rate of deaths had increased dramatically. "Far and above greater than any of the one-year increases that we've seen to this point."

Life expectancy researchers believe that the opioid epidemic is only a fraction of a much larger picture.

Anne Case, an economist at Princeton University, said, "It's also a crisis in which people are killing themselves in much larger numbers — whites especially."

Deaths from alcohol have been rising as well. So we think of it all being signs that something is really wrong and whatever it is that's really wrong is happening nationwide.

Case also mentions that the loss of secure jobs with annual salary raises and good benefits contributes to frustration, which could explain why fewer people are getting married. "They don't have a good job. They don't have a marriage that supports them. They may have children that they do or don't see. They have a much more fragile existence than they would have had a generation ago."

The CDC report also revealed that West Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania had the "highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2016, with Iowa, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota, and Nebraska having the lowest age-adjusted rates.

Twitter had their theories.

We're fighting a war in our backyard.

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H/T - NPR, Twitter, CDC, BusinessInsider