Drug addict man lying on the floor, overdose

The Overdose Epidemic and the “Astounding” Life Expectancy Drop

For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has dropped.1 In 2020, the US experienced the largest drop life expectancy since World War II: 1.8 years.2 Now, life expectancy is yet another year lower, and declines in all individual 50 states. Declines differed significantly amongst race/ethnic groups.

Although COVID-19 obviously played a huge role in this decline, with states hardest impacted by COVID suffering larger declines, the picture is more complicated than that.

Robert Anderson, NCHS Mortality Statistics Chief, when asked about other leading causes of death that contributed to this decline, stated, “The main one is unintentional injuries, and this is mostly drug overdoses. There are some other causes that are grouped with unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle accidents and falls. But what really stands out in terms of sort of increasing mortality, and which is responsible for the decline in life expectancy, would be the drug overdose deaths. It’s second to COVID-19 in terms of its impact.”

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