Increase in Drug Overdoses Lowers Average Life Expectancy in Florida

Last Updated: April 11, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

While Americans overall have enjoyed longer and longer lives, there is a new and unsettling trend. For the first time in decades, life expectancy has declined, particularly for white women and men. Life expectancy in Florida is slightly better than the national average, but it is on the decline as well. Researchers say the new findings are significant, somewhat surprising, and worth investigating.

An increase in drug-related deaths is believed to play a key role in lower life expectancy rates. For people who are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, the numbers might be unchanged or on par with the rest of the country. For people who do suffer from addiction, Florida rehabs for drugs and alcohol can help turn the tide back in the right direction.

The Life Expectancy Trends are Small but Important

The American life expectancy average was 78.8 years in 2015, a decrease from 78.9 the previous year. Florida residents can expect to live slightly longer than that, but only by about one year. According to Florida Public Health,  the trend in Florida started between 2013 and 2014, when life expectancy changed from 79.3 to 79.2. In 2015, it declined yet again.

Although the percentages seem small, researchers say they are important for the state and the country. Philip Morgan of the University of North Carolina tells U.S. News and World Report, “This is a big deal” because it is an indicator of well-being. Anne Case of Princeton University says she believes “we should be very concerned.”

People are dying younger as a result of  drug overdose and other drug-related complications, says theNew York Times.  And according to NPR,  drug addiction, specifically opioid painkiller and heroin abuse, is a probable factor. So is economic distress, which is often a troubling side effect of drug addiction.

Hispanic and African American Life Expectancy Rates are Catching up

The most alarming trends in life expectancy rates are among white men and women. Fortunately, African Americans and Hispanics are making life expectancy gains. They are not quite the same as American or Floridian rates, but the gap is closing as white life expectancy declines. African American men and women gained about a year since 2014. The life expectancy rate among Hispanic men and women rose from 81.6 in 2013 to 81.8 in one year.

The New York Times underscores drug overdose as a likely contributing factor in deaths among younger white Americans and suggests that it is a powerful enough factor to affect the life expectancy rate from birth onward.

The Centers for Disease Control explain that heroin use is especially high among non-Hispanic white males. Further, while the same group accounted for 1.4 per 1,000 of heroin users between 2002 and 2004, compared to 2 per 1,000 in other ethnic backgrounds, in 2011 major changes emerged. By 2013, non-Hispanic whites accounted for 3 per 1,000 heroin users, which is an increase of 114 percent. Heroin use among people from other ethnic backgrounds stayed about the same.

Drug use, especially the use of opioids, keeps climbing. It has become such a prevalent problem that addiction is now directly related to life expectancy from birth. The statistics are not quite as grim at the national level as they are for Florida, but they are close.

Because opioid abuse and addiction are now considered an epidemic, researchers and government agencies are monitoring the relationship to life expectancy rates closely. Even a fraction of a percent in the wrong direction represents many lives lost to drugs and a less hopeful outlook for people in Florida and across the country. With Florida rehabs for drugs and alcohol, the current trends could turn around again.

If you or someone you care about has an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both, there is hope for treatment and recovery.

Contact us today to learn about the programs available through Orlando Recovery Center.