Drug overdose deaths accounted for 70,237 deaths past year - almost 10% higher than in 2016 - with a significantly higher rate of death among men, compared to women.
New Hamphire State Drug LaboratoryThe official numbers for opioid-related deaths in 2017, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today, demonstrate once again the folly of trying to tackle this problem by reducing access to prescription pain pills.
It marks the third consecutive year life expectancy has dropped in the U.S., and the longest life expectancy decline trend since the late 1910s when WWI and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill approximately 675,000 Americans.
"We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier", CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Women are expected to live longer than men, with female life expectancy unchanged at 81.1 years in 2017, while male life expectancy decreased from 76.2 years in 2016 to 76.1 years in 2017. Fentanyl is an opioid 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The highest overdose rates were also concentrated in only a handful of states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Not since the combined impact of World War I and the Spanish Flu in 1918 has the country experienced such a prolonged period of decline in life expectancy. The total number of suicide deaths was the highest in a half century and up more than 2,000 from 2016.
The CDC's report considered all overdose deaths and came up with 134 such cases for Vermont - 10 more than the state's report shows. It is the 10th highest cause of death for all age groups.
CDC: Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation for 2017 overdose deaths
Among the 10 leading causes of death, the cancer death rate fell, but there were an increase in seven others: suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, flu/pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and unintentional injuries. The data also reflect a declining rate of people dying of cancer, down 2.1 percent from 2016 to 2017. Among women, the rate increased from about 4 overdose deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to about 14 per 100,000 in 2017.
Life expectancy in the United States continued its extraordinary decline in 2017 after stagnating in 2016 and falling in 2015.
"Vermont took steps early on to implement a number of significant actions to enhance prevention, promote screening and early intervention, monitor prescribing, expand treatment and support recovery", Levine said. That is up from 10.5 in 1999 and from 13.5 past year.
The CDC found suicide became the second leading cause of death for 10- to 34-year-olds in 2016, with rates increasing 33% between 1999 and 2017, according to the report. Nebraska, by contrast, had just 8.1 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.
As you can see in the map (linked here and embedded below), the areas most affected by high rates of death are concentrated in the Southeast and parts of the Southwest. Rates also increased for all age groups studied.
"There has been an assumption at times that overdoses fit into one of two categories: they're intentional or they're unintentional", she says.