Life Expectancy for Americans Decreased for Second Straight Year, Due to the Opioid Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a shocking report about the decline in American life expectancy, a rate they haven’t seen since influenza ran rampant in 1962 and 1963, and during the worst of the AIDS epidemic back in 1993. In 2016, the CDC saw a staggering 21 percent death rate fueled by the opioid epidemic and it was the second year in a row that life expectancy decreased.

In 2016, life expectancy dropped from 78.7 to 78.6. For men, it went from 76.3 to 76.1 while women held their expectancy at 81.8 years.

Regardless of the high-spend of medical care in the United States, life expectancy is lower than other developed countries, with younger to middle-aged Americans taking the brunt of the opioid epidemic. More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses alone in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015, and that’s not including the deaths from drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines. Drug mortality is the highest among people aged 25 to 54 and men are twice as likely to overdose and die than women are, according to the CDC.

The first dip in life expectancy occurred in 2015, due to 52,404 drug overdoses and paired with suicides, alcoholism, heart disease, strokes and diabetes. In 2016, 63,632 people died of overdoses despite the three major causes of death being unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and suicides. Year-over-year, that’s an 11,000 increase in drug-related deaths. Additionally, deaths from fentanyl and synthetic opioids doubled while deaths from heroin and prescription opioids rose modestly.

The CDC reports that 9,580 people fatally overdosed from fentanyl and synthetic opiates in 2015, and rose to 19,413 in 2016. Year-over-year, heroin deaths increased by 20 percent and deaths from opioid painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone increased by 14 percent.

The numbers are scary, but there is hope. It’s never too soon to start treatment. Spectrum Health Systems has 48 years of experience in treating substance use disorders and mental health. Beds are available today, call Outpatient Services at (800) 464-9555 or Inpatient Services at (800) 366-7732.

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