Life Expectancy in U.S. Drops Two Years in a Row, CDC Reports

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that for the second year in a row, life expectancy in the United States fell. The opioid crisis has played a big role in the increase in death rates.

The life expectancy fell to an average of 78.6 years old. It was 78.9 in 2015. In 1993 there was a drop attributed to the AIDS epidemic. This is the first drop two years in a row since 1962 and 1963. Overdose rates rose in 40 states and Washington D.C. There were 17 states who reported increases of 25 percent of more, according to public health advocacy group Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).

Opioid-related overdose deaths rose 28 percent from 2015 levels, claiming lives of 42,249 people. Most of those people were between the ages of 25 and 54. Drug overdoses claimed 63,000 people last year, a 21 percent increase from 2015.

TFAH says synthetic opioids like fentanyl are contributing to the increase in overdose deaths. In 2014 there were a reported 5,540 deaths from these kinds of drugs. In 2016 there were 19,410 deaths. In 2016 heroin overdoses killed 15,500 people and painkillers took 14,500 people.

The opioid crisis is now a public health emergency, but not a national emergency. While this declaration does allow more resources to go towards fighting the epidemic, some say a national emergency would allow more resources to go towards treatment, prescription monitoring programs and access to overdose antidote drugs.


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