Study: U.S. life expectancy drops for third year in a row

Study: U.S. life expectancy drops for third year in a row

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Life expectancy continues to fall for Americans, according to a new study released by JAMA Network.

It decreased after 2014 by four months to a little more than 78 and a half years. Adults aged 25 to 64 are dying at higher rates due to obesity, alcohol, suicide and a major cause, drug overdoses.

"We do see a lot of patients come to us who are addicted to opioids and have been using opioids whether they started initially because of prescriptions that they were given, or because of drug abuse or illicit drug use that they were doing," Dr. Keya Malhotra, an internal medicine physician at Grace Clinic, said.

It is difficult to get patients off opioids once they are addicted, Dr. Malhotra said.

George Comiskey, a professor in the Community, Family and Addiction Sciences Department at Texas Tech, said another reason people are turning to drugs is societal stress.

"I think that we are overcome with the amount of anxiety in our society," Comiskey said. "There's this free floating anxiety of, 'What's my future going to look like? Am I going to have what I need?"

The study also indicates the decline is greater in people with lower incomes, but despite a seemingly dark future, Dr. Malhotra said this trend can be reversed.

"It's important to identify the causes and try to tackle those causes. In terms of medicine and doctors, of course, overprescribing opioids, or prescribing opioids for little small things, that should be avoided as much as possible. That would prevent young people from getting addicted to opioids," she said.

It is a call to the community, the state and the nation, Comiskey said, to help others feel safe and secure, so they do not turn to harmful substances for a sense of purpose.

 

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