Life Expectancy Declines Again: Opioid Crisis to Blame


Today the Center for Disease and Control released two separate reports with staggering statistics and subsequent consequences that effect all of us: Mortality in the United States (2016) and Drug Overdoses in The United States 1999-2016.


The findings in these reports make it clear that life expectancy has dropped for now the second year in a row (which hasn’t happened since the 1960s) and that Opioid induced overdoses are absolutely out of control, effecting not just one generation, but several.

The average life expectancy has dropped from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.7 in 2015 to now 78.6 in 2016. To the untrained eye these numbers appear to be quite minuscule, however a .1% decrease equates to additional 31,618 lives lost than the previous year. It also implies that a pandemic is on the rise, as the last time life expectancy dropped at all in America was in 1993 as a direct result of the AIDS virus.


SOURCE: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.


This graph clearly shows that the decline in life expectancy is a direct result of the increase in deaths under the category of “Unintentional Injuries”, in which overdose deaths would fall under (43.2 deaths per 100,000 to 47.4 per 100,000 in 2016).

When one thinks of opioid induced overdose fatalities, we tend to think that it’s only effecting the younger generations, a stereotype if you will, however when the statistics are analyzed this simply is not the case. In fact, since 2004, the highest fatality rate for opioid overdoses were the 45-54 age group, with the 35-44 and 25-34 age group steadily trending behind, Until now.


SOURCE: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.


SOURCE: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.


The newest report from the CDC shows that the 45-54, 35-44, and 25-34 age groups are now on the same playing field in regards to opioid induced drug overdose and have all increased to about 35 deaths per 100,000 population. This data clearly shows that this crisis is trans-generational and is killing equally within a 30 year age differential.


In 2016 drug overdoses soared to unprecedented heights, clearly showing that this pandemic has not even begun to plateau. We lost over 63,000 lives to drug overdoses in 2016, up from 52,404 in 2015. Out of theses 63,000, 49,800 were opioid induced, up from 33,000 just the year before. That brings the total of opioid overdose deaths from 2002-2016 to 327,300 American lives.


Source: Overdose Death Rates


Like a stock trader analyzing trends of growth, it has become crystal clear that opioid induced overdose fatalities show no signs of stagnation and will continue to rise. To combat this unsettling admission, more resources must be available, research must be conducted, and a true effort to face this pandemic head on MUST be initiated, now. As we stand idle, those battling with addiction without proper resources will continue to parish, multiple generations destroyed, lineages to carry on no longer, and families gutted of their morality and financial resources.


As the state and federal government continues to stand idle, the economic, criminal, and mortal implications of this pandemic have the capability to destroy our civilization from the inside out. Make no mistake, history will show that these years contained nothing less than genocide. An internal war that was not only orchestrated, but was a system of profit for many. Its time that America, as a whole, admits it has a problem and binds together in unity to tackle this crisis.


Why is this happening? Who is to blame?

Any problem can be reduced to personal responsibility, and in this case there is more than enough to go around. Why is it that with more MAT medication available and more treatment centers open than ever before in human history are we still hitting all time highs in addiction related death?


Without getting into too much detail the fault is at the hands of irresponsible providers and of course the user must be accountable for their actions. Almost no regulation was put in place in regards to the operation of treatment centers which caused centers to pop up almost daily as a means to cash in big with no real intention of helping anyone. Select pharmaceutical industry is also responsible for the mass influx in heroin and fentanyl deaths as a direct result of their gross malpractice regarding the copious amounts of narcotic pain killers dispensed in a relatively short time frame.


So, what’s the solution?

The state and federal government must dedicate resources to investigate a way to halt the perpetual growth of opioid induced deaths. In my opinion, a board of overseers must be constructed consisting of: insurance providers, reputable treatment center operators, psychiatrists and psychologists specializing in addiction, MAT pharmaceutical industry (buprenorphine and naloxone), addicts in recovery, and presiding judges of drug court programs. As of now, all of these entities have been operating independently of each other. That has led to insurance providers getting ripped off and subsequently halting necessary coverage. Treatment centers are closing down, certain MAT drugs are being misused and their prices are relatively too high for their desperate demand anyway.


Also, drug courts are becoming over run and under-funded. The solution resides in all of these entities coming together to not only find common ground in each other, but to work in sync to revolutionize the way this country approaches and treats opioid addiction. In addition, new regulations must be put in place in regards to mandatory hospital discharge protocol when an individual survives from an overdose.


Without real reform, action, and collectivism this problem is not going anywhere and when the statistics for 2017 are released for opioid overdose deaths they will most definitely surpass the years prior. This problem speaks to all of us and whether we like it or not the implications of this genocidal catastrophe will be felt for generations to come. So much damage has already been done, but its not too late to band together and put an end to the disorganized and irresponsible approach we have taken thus far.


Sources:

Mortality in the United States, 2016 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db293.htm

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States 2016 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db294.htm


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