The overall US life expectancy has decreased by two and half months—due to the increasing number of opioid overdoses in the country.
A study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in JAMA revealed this disturbing trend. Dr. Deborah Dowell of the CDC served as lead researcher, and set out to discover why overall life expectancy changed so drastically between 2014 and 2015.
This was the first time life expectancy had decreased year over year since 1993. TIME notes that the last considerable decrease in life expectancy was attributed to the AIDS crisis in the 1990s.
In light of this new data, individuals born in 2015 were expected to live approximately one month less than those born in 2014. While this may not seem alarming at surface-level, it may be indicative of a disturbing downward trend in life expectancy overall.
As opioid addiction continues to rise across the US, overdoses are more common now than ever before. Overdose-related deaths have experienced an astronomical increase; families from all walks of life have suffered incredible loss.
Overdoses are now a leading cause of death in the United States—and are the number one leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Overdoses claim more lives on a yearly basis than car crashes or HIV/AIDS–the disease that initially caused a decrease in life expectancy so many years ago.
This epidemic continues to grow wildly—and has affected every corner of our country. Regardless of a person’s race, gender, or socioeconomic status, addiction has taken hold of countless individuals—and their families in its wake.
Making treatment available to those who are suffering and continuing to spread messages of prevention will provide a path to progress. Addiction is an insidious disease—and will only respond to action being taken and changes being made.
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