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Opioid abuse cuts into U.S. life expectancy

Staff Writer |
Rising death rates from opioid abuse are chipping away at Americans' life spans, a U.S. government study finds.

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Between 2000 and 2015, researchers found, U.S. life expectancy increased overall - from nearly 77 years to 79 years.

But buried within that broad pattern were some ominous trends. The death rate from drug overdoses more than doubled, while that from opioids, specifically, more than tripled, said lead researcher Dr. Deborah Dowell.

She is with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of unintentional injury prevention.

By 2015, drug-related deaths had shaved 3.5 months off of Americans' life expectancy, Dowell's team found. And whites were the hardest hit.

Most of that lost life span was pinned on opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers like OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone) and codeine.

Earlier this month, another government study highlighted the toll that heroin alone has taken.

Between 2002 and 2016, deaths from the drug soared by 533 percent nationwide - from just under 2,100 deaths to more than 13,200.


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