Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
U.S. deaths from drug overdoses skyrocketed 21% last year, and for the second straight year dragged down how long Americans are expected to live (Source: “Soaring Overdose Deaths Cut U.S. Life Expectancy for 2nd Year,” Associated Press via U.S News and World Report, December 21, 2017).
The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put drug deaths at 63,600, up from about 52,000 in 2015. For the first time, the powerful painkiller fentanyl and its close opioid cousins played a bigger role in the deaths than any other legal or illegal drug, surpassing prescription pain pills and heroin.
The drug deaths weigh into the CDC’s annual calculation of the average time a person is expected to live. The life expectancy figure is based on the year of their birth, current death trends, and other factors. For decades, it was on the upswing, rising a few months nearly every year. But last year marked the first time in more than a half century that U.S. life expectancy fell two consecutive years.
A baby born last year in the U.S. is expected to live about 78 years and 7 months, on average, the CDC said. An American born in 2015 was expected to live about a month longer and one born in 2014 about two months longer than that.