Life Expectancy Drops As Opioid Deaths Rise In U.S.

Life Expectancy Drops As Opioid Deaths Rise In U.S.

It’s been the second year in a row when life expectancy dropped in the U.S. It looks like opioid overdoses have impacted the death surge.

The chief of the mortality statistics branch, Robert Anderson, who works at the National Center for Health Statistics has said that it is alarming and that ‘the drug overdose problem is a public health problem and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.’

Until 2016 life expectancy in the U.S. has steadily increased for decades, and only in the early 1960’s has seen two years in a row of declining life expectancy. The last time it dropped was in 1993, when there was the AIDS epidemic.

Many Factors Increase Death Rates

Although other factors such as heart diseases have had a role in decreasing the U.S. population, opioid overdoses have had a significant role so far, causing a lot of deaths.

In 2016 drug overdoses jumped to over 63,600, out of which 42,200 had been caused by opioids. Looking back at 2015, 52,400 deaths were caused by drug overdoses, out of which only 33,000 were due to using opioids.

A way to lower the number of fatalities caused by opioids would be to cut off the supply of drugs that are on the market – like heroin and fentanyl and treat the addicted Americans, providing them access to health care of a high quality.

Alcohol also has been responsible of many deaths. Anne Case, an economist at Princeton University studied why people are resorting to drugs or alcohol and called this crisis: ‘Deaths of Despair’. They realized that these are ‘signs that something is really wrong and whatever is it is that’s really wrong is happening nationwide’.

And it’s obvious that the decline of good jobs, sense of security, being single are all factors that increase frustration and hopelessness. She says that ‘They don’t have a good job. They don’t have a marriage that supports them.’

It might be that ‘the deaths from drugs, from suicide, from alcohol are related to the fact that people don’t have the stability and a hope for the future that they might have had in the past’, added Case, concluding that mortality has increased not because of people using drugs or consuming alcohol, but because they don’t feel like it’s worth living in such a world.


I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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