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As the opioid crisis continues to plague the nation, the CDC has now released a report stating the average U.S. life expectancy has dropped for the second year in a row – a statistic that hasn’t been reported since the early 1960s.

The National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to update trends of drug overdose deaths, describe demographic and geographic patterns, and identify shifts in the types of drugs involved.

The findings are staggering, and continue to demonstrate the lethal impact of opioids across the country.

According to the report, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016 – making it the most lethal year yet for overdoses.

The 2016 overdose death rate was also more than three times higher than the overdose death rate reported in 1999.

Demographics
The report shows that overdose death rates were significantly higher for males than females.

In 2016, 26.2 per 100,000 men died of opioid overdose, compared to 8.2 per 100,000 in 1999. For females, the rate increased from 3.9 in 1999 to 13.4 in 2016.

Every age group examined in the report (15 years and older) showed rising trends, but the age group most impacted were those ages 25- to 54-years-old, with 35 deaths per 100,000 people.

Twenty-two states, as well as the District of Columbia, had overdose death rates that were statistically higher than the national average in 2016. Of those states, West Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania had the highest rates. West Virginia’s rate was nearly triple the national rate of 19.8 per 100,000.

At the bottom of the list were Iowa, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota and Nebraska, which all came in under the national average. Nebraska had the lowest rate at 6.4.

Breakdown by opioid type
Four different categories of opioids were highlighted in the report – synthetic (other than methadone), heroin, natural and semisynthetic, and methadone.

Again, all categories saw increases in overdose deaths in recent years with the most significant being synthetic opioids, which increased 88 percent per year from 2013 to 2016.

From 1999 to 2006, the rate increased by 18 percent per year, and held steady from 2006 to 2013, before significantly rising again. The report contributes this specific rise to the influx of fentanyl and tramadol.

Heroin increased 33 percent per year from 2010 to 2014, but since then has had an average increase of 19 percent per year. Methadone resulted in a spike of overdose deaths in 2006 with 1.8 per 100,000, compared to .3 in 1999. But then dropped to 1.0 per 100,000 in 2016.

The various increases in overdose deaths have contributed to an overall decrease in the U.S. life expectancy for a second year in a row, according to the report.

The average life expectancy dropped a degree, from 78.7 in 2015 to 78.6 in 2016. In 2014, the life expectancy was 78.9 On the surface, the continuous rate of decrease doesn’t seem too alarming, but the drop does provide an indicator of the overall health and wellness of the nation, and provisional data for 2017 suggests we won’t see any improvement.

The last time there was a decline in life expectancy for more than two years in a row was 100 years ago as the result of the Spanish flu, according to Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics bran of the National Center for Health Statistics.

The opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency by President Donald Trump in October. The declaration was followed by a final report from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction’s that outlined more than 50 recommendations to help combat the opioid crisis.

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