Fentanyl Deaths Dramatically Cutting US Life Expectancy


CDC report highlights impact of fentanyl

The CDC released its latest report on the opioid epidemic, and the statistics are staggering. About 63,600 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the CDC data show. About 42,000 of them died after taking opioids. Among these deaths, 19,000 were due to a synthetic opioid.

Those who are familiar with the toll these drugs are taking have come to expect such figures—but that doesn’t make them less disturbing. “We’ve been watching the numbers rise pretty rapidly. When we compiled our final file for 2016, we knew that it was going to be a big increase,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “When you look at that graph for the synthetic opioids—I don’t know. Surprise is not quite the right word. It just astounds me to look at it. But we knew this would happen.”

Newsweek, in covering the CDC data, showed the impact that the opioid crisis is having across the nation, particularly in hard hit areas like West Virginia where entire high school classes are getting wiped out:

Late last year, a man went to his 10-year high school reunion in a small town just outside of Charleston, West Virginia. His close-knit community meant no one was forgotten a decade after graduation. “Everyone knows who is there and who is not there,” said Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a researcher from the University of California, San Francisco.

The former classmates began comparing notes—not about jobs and families, but about lives that had already ended. “Half of his high school class is dead,” said Ciccarone, who visited the region and interviewed the man in February. “Drugs, alcohol, pills and heroin.”

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To learn more details about how fentanyl is reversing US life expectancy, please visit Newsweek.com.

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