Drug Epidemic Driving Overall Death Rates Up

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The opioid epidemic that has ravaged life expectancy among economically stressed white Americans is taking a rising toll among blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, driving up the overall rate of premature death among people in the prime of their lives, reports the Washington Post. Since the beginning of this decade, death rates have risen among people 25 to 44 years old in virtually every racial and ethnic group and almost all states, according to a Washington Post analysis. The death rate among African Americans is up 4 percent, Hispanics 7 percent, whites 12 percent and Native Americans 18 percent. After a century of decreases, the overall death rate for Americans in these prime years rose 8 percent between 2010 and 2015.

The jump in death rates has been driven in large measure by drug overdoses and alcohol abuse, finds an analysis of mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“ What it reflects is an out-of-control epidemic right now,” said Josh Sharfstein of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s affecting the economy. It’s affecting the entire community. This is an absolute call to action for public health.”

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