How Drugs, Alcohol & Suicide Are Affecting The Average Lifespan

By Bryan Le 09/24/18

A new CDC report has revealed some alarming changes in life expectancy trends.

medical team working on patients in ER

A new CDC report reveals that the average life expectancy in the United States is falling for the first time since 1993.

Drugs, alcohol, and suicide are taking the lives of young Americans at rates so high that the U.S. life expectancy is being pushed down, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released a new federal report revealing that the U.S. life expectancy has dipped by about 0.3 years between 2014 and 2016.

This breaks the pattern of steadily-rising life expectancy between 2006 and 2016, which saw growth from 77.8 years to 78.6 years. The causes for this drop in the general population, says the CDC, are rising drug overdose rates, suicide, liver disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Drug deaths have been spiraling out of control over the past few years, killing 63,600 people in 2016.

In 2016, liver disease surpassed HIV to take the dubious honor of being the sixth-highest cause of death for U.S. adults aged 25 to 44.

Suicide has been on an upward trend for all demographics, including an alarming 9% increase in suicides by children from age 1 to 14 during the study period.

While more men have died of overdose and suicide than women in the past, that gender gap is quickly closing. Drug overdose deaths jumped by about 19% for women aged 15 to 24 from 2014 to 2016. Suicide rates for young women have grown by a whopping 70% between 2010 and 2016.

Deaths from Alzheimer's disease have risen by 21%, and the CDC expects this number to grow larger as time goes on.

However, the report wasn’t all bad news. Among Americans above the age of 65, deaths resulting from heart disease, cancer, and strokes have fallen.

Drugs, alcohol, and suicide have been working to drive down life expectancy since 1993. While these increases may not seem like a big deal, Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, says we should be aware.

“For any individual, that’s not a whole lot,” he told NPR. “But when you’re talking about it in terms of a population, you’re talking about a significant number of potential lives that aren’t being lived.”  

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter