The Opioid Epidemic Has Driven Down Life Expectancy in the US

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The opioid epidemic escalating across the U.S. is now having a detrimental impact on life expectancy. New research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that increased death rates are due to the rise in accidental overdoses caused by pharmaceutical medications along with illicit opioids.

With the United States was once at the forefront of longevity, it’s now dropped in the rankings behind many other first world countries. The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that between 2000 and 2015 life expectancy actually increased by two years from 77 to 79.  That’s a much lower number than anticipated.

This is a result of drug-related deaths having doubled during that period, with opioid-specific deaths having more than tripled during that same timeframe. While drug-related deaths were increasing, researchers did find some good news: death rates from cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, influenza, and lung diseases have reduced.

By 2015, life expectancy for Americans dropped by 3.5 months as a result of these new findings. Most of that time was caused by prescription painkillers Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine, and illicitly-acquired heroin.

Dr. Deborah Dowell, lead researcher for the study who works at the CDC’s division of unintentional injury prevention, says this is the first major decrease in life expectancy since the AIDS epidemic. “[U.S.] life expectancy is now lower than in most high-income countries,” she said. “We need to prevent more people from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place,” Dowell adds, explaining that better prescribing practices are “critical” to battling this problem.

Dowell’s team found that 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2015. That’s a considerable jump from the 17,000 in 2000. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in 2015, 2 million Americans were abusing prescription opioids or heroin. 80% of those using heroin started on prescription painkillers.

A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this year showed that one third of Americans were prescribed opioids in 2015. That arrived shortly after the FDA urged for one opioid to be removed from the market, and encouraged physicians to seek alternative methods for approaching pain management, including acupuncture.

Acupuncture is the world’s original pain reliever, working within 8 seconds. It doesn’t work with all pains, especially structural issues, however here at the clinic we evaluate your response over three treatments. If the pain is not significantly reduced in those treatments, acupuncture will most likely not be the answer to your pain relief.  We have a quick and efficient way to get to the solution. Call now.

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