Overdose deaths drive down U.S. life expectancy


A surge in overdose deaths in 2017 actually drove down the overall U.S. life expectancy last year. An addiction expert says the problem is inadequate resources for treatment, stigma and other barriers to seeking help, and powerful drugs.

Dr. William Jacobs offers a sad smile when told that overdose deaths last year helped drive down overall U.S life expectancy for 2017.

“This is not new news to me,” said Jacobs, chief of addiction medicine at Medical College of Georgia and medical director of Bluff Plantation addiction treatment center. “I hear this every day. I see it in the patients I treat.”

A surge of more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths, as well as an uptick in suicide, helped decrease overall U.S. life expectancy from 78.7 years in 2016 to 78.6 in 2017, according to statistics released today from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The drug overdose death rate increased 9.6 percent, from 19.8 per 100,000 to 21.7 per 100,000, the report found. There were 58 overdose deaths in Augusta in 2017, Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen said.


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