SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Life expectancy has declined in the U.S. for the third straight year.
The CDC described the decrease in life expectancy as "slight” and they have a theory on the cause.
More Americans are dying younger, and doctors are blaming unintentional drug overdoses and suicides.
The Centers for Disease Control said life expectancy in 2017 was 78.6 years, a decrease of about five weeks from the previous year.
But doctors are concerned about the opioid crisis' impact on life expectancy.
“Life expectancy in the United States has decreased for the third year in a row, which is alarming and troubling,” said Dr. Robert Roose, chief of addiction medicine at Trinity Health of New England. This is the first time since 1918 when a giant influenza pandemic swept around the globe.
Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi said more people are unknowingly using drugs laced with the potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
“I don’t think there is any question that fentanyl and carfentanil are game changers when they are laced inside heroin, It can stop your heart and death can result,” said Sheriff Cocchi.
Nearly 90 percent of the inmates at the Hampden County Jail are addicted to opioids and other drugs. Sheriff Cocchi told 22News there are numerous resources and social services in western Massachusetts that can help prevent unintentional drug overdoses.
Dr. Roose said methadone and two other addiction-treatment drugs have been shown to help prevent addiction relapses.
According to the CDC, more than 70,000 people died last year from accidental drug overdoses, a 10 percent increase over 2016.