U.S. life expectancy drops due to drug overdoses

A person sits lays on a hospital bed

The CDC reports in 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States.

In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines - including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide. A single year might be a blip, but the reasons for the increase in death rate (including obesity and drug overdoses) suggested that might not be the case.

The "statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable", said CDC Director Robert Redfield. Fentanyl is an opioid 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Pennsylvania had one of the highest overdose rates in 2016, but it comes off looking relatively well off on the age-adjusted mortality map. It's the longest sustained decline since World War I and the Spanish Influenza pandemic, which killed tens of millions worldwide.

Like in other years, most gun deaths were suicides.

United States women continue to outlive men, and the death rate did decrease among 45- to 54-year-olds. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide", he said. But deaths in younger age groups - particularly middle-aged people - have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said.

Among the 10 leading causes of death, the cancer death rate fell, but there were an increase in seven others: suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, flu/pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and unintentional injuries.

"Higher suicide rates in rural areas are due to almost 60 percent of rural homes having a gun versus less than half of homes in urban areas", Humphreys wrote in an email.

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Babies now can expect to live 78.6 years on average, based on 2017 data, according to NCHS researchers.

The rate of suicides has crept up from 10 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 previous year.

West Virginia saw the highest overdose death rate in 2017 at 58 per 100,000 people; Ohio, Pennsylvania and the United States capital also topped the list. That number has been steadily rising, and in 2017 approximately 29 out of 100,000 men died of a drug overdose. A tally of all drug overdoses showed 124 deaths, down from 132 the year prior; the count for opioid-related deaths showed an increase from 96 to 101. A 2017 analysis of opioid-related fatalities in MA found that heroin or fentanyl was the deadliest drug in 85 percent of the cases.

The figures mark an "appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918", the Washington Post reported. In 1999, by contrast, that number was around 10.5 per 100,000 people.

The percentage of suicides due to drug overdose has been inching downward. Rates also increased for all age groups studied. In 1999, the death rate was just 6.1 per 100,000.

Recent analysis from the Drug Enforcement Agency indicates that drugs continue to grow cheaper and more prevalent as they flow freely across the southern border and in to the country through the USA mail.

Suicide rates for males aged 10-74 were higher in 2017 than in 1999.

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