Overdoses, suicides influence a drop in average US life expectancy

Posted 11/30/2018

HUNTINGTON - The Appalachia region, with West Virginia leading the pack, had higher-than-average overdose death rates in 2017, while nationwide the rate of those overdose deaths combined with more suicides has shortened the life expectancy of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With a rate of 57.8 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people, West Virginia once again had the highest overdose death rate in the country, followed by Ohio with 46.3 per 100,000 and Pennsylvania with 44.3 per 100,000.

Rates increased both for men (from 8.2 in 1999 to 29.1 in 2017) and women (from 3.9 in 1999 to 14.4 in 2017). Rates also increased for all age groups studied. In 2017, among people age 15 and older, rates were highest for adults age 25-34 and 35-44 at 38.4 and 39.0 per 100,000, respectively.

In 2017, 20 states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, and the District of Columbia had age-adjusted drug overdose death rates that were statistically higher than the national rate.

The pattern of drugs involved in overdose deaths has changed in recent years. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol) increased 45 percent, from 6.2 per 100,000 in 2016 to 9.0 in 2017. The rates of drug overdose deaths involving heroin (4.9 per 100,000), natural and semi-synthetic opioids (4.4) and methadone (1.0) were the same in 2016 and 2017.


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