Opioid [DOPE INC CLUB OF ROME] crisis lowers US life expectancy: Study

Recovering drug users, activists and social service providers hold a rally calling for "bolder political action" in combating the overdose epidemic on August 17, 2017 in New York City. (Getty Images)
Recovering drug users, activists and social service providers hold a rally calling for “bolder political action” in combating the overdose epidemic on August 17, 2017 in New York City. (Getty Images)

The US opioid drug epidemic, which killed over 33,000 people in 2015, is reducing the average life expectancy in the country, new research from the US government shows.

The skyrocketing number of opioid deaths in the US has shaved more than two months off the average American lifespan, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The CDC study found that from 2000 to 2015, the average American life expectancy grew overall from 77 years to 79 years, but that the astounding rise in opioid-related deaths shaved 2.5 months off this improvement.

While overdose deaths in general in the US more than doubled in that 15-year span, opioid overdoses more than tripled, the study reported.

No other factor negatively affected life expectancy more than drug abuse.

“It really underlines how serious the problem of opioid overdose has become in the U.S.,” Deborah Dowell, senior medical adviser in the division of unintentional injury prevention at CDC, told Time. “In general we don’t see decreases in life expectancy attributable to a single cause that are of this magnitude.”

More than 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2015 — the latest year for which data is available. The country’s opioid epidemic claimed over 33,000 lives in that year.

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 continued to climb in the US despite ongoing efforts to stem the epidemic, according to the latest government numbers.

“These findings suggest that preventing opioid-related poisoning deaths will be important to achieving more robust increases in life expectancy once again,” the researchers concluded.

Last month, US President Donald Trump declared the country’s opioid drugs epidemic a “national emergency,” a designation that would offer states more federal resources and power to combat the crisis.

Opioid drugs include illegal drugs like heroin, synthetic medications such as fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, morphine, codeine, and many others. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved prescription painkillers.

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