The latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that in 2021, the average life expectancy of Americans born in that year decreased to 76.4 years. This is the shortest estimated US life expectancy since 1996. The CDC has attributed this decline to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased use of illicit drugs such as fentanyl. Women can expect to live to an average of 79.3 years, while the average life expectancy for men is 73.5 years.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in 2021, followed by cancer and then COVID-19. Drug overdose deaths have also risen significantly in 2021, with the rate increasing from 28.3 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 32.4 in 2021. The majority of these overdoses were attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, with overdose deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine also rising significantly. The good news is that heroin-related overdose deaths decreased by 32%.
It is important to remember that these statistics represent real people and real families affected by the pandemic and drug use. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse problem, there are resources available to help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a free national helpline.