Opioid Epidemic Drives Decrease in American Life Expectancy

I started 2018 with positive news about the impact prevention can have in addressing the opioid epidemic. Unfortunately, it’s now time to share some tragic news that too many Americans have already dealt with personally.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that American life expectancy at birth dropped for the second consecutive year, driven mainly by the overdose deaths of more than 63,000 people in the United States during 2016.

A vast majority of those overdoses involved prescription opioids and heroin, and deaths due to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016.

The life expectancy of an American dropped a tenth of a year, from 78.7 years to 78.6 years. This represents the first time in more than 50 years that life expectancy at birth dropped two consecutive years.

Unfortunately, limited data so far available for 2017 indicates a continued increase in drug overdose deaths.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey will continue to fight the opioid epidemic through the Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series, organized with The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. We encourage New Jersey residents to attend the upcoming town halls in 2018.

But beyond just attending these meetings, residents need to act. Speak with friends and neighbors about the risks of prescription opioids and the need to dispose of old and unused medications. Talk to your children about the dangers of drug use. Get involved with local prevention groups to spread these messages more widely throughout your community.

There are many ways that you can be a part of the solution to turn the tide against this tragic epidemic, and your help is crucial to make progress in this fight.

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