Life expectancy keeps falling under opioid crisis. Here’s how Florida bucks the trend.

Florida “has done more than any other state to reduce opioid sales,” says ConsumerProtect.Com. The consumer group just released a study using data from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Here’s the good news: The study found that Florida reduced its sales of opioids by nearly 62 percent — from 77 kilograms to 29.4 kilograms per 100,000 people — in the years 2010 to 2017.

The opioids considered for the study were Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) and Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco). The DEA tracks the sales of these two main variants of prescription opioids.

Right behind Florida among states to reduce opioid sales in the eight-year period were Maine (down nearly 47 percent) and Delaware (down 46 percent).

On the state rankings survey, Florida ranks No. 17 among the states for the most opioid sales per capita at 29. 4 kilograms per 100,000, which still places the Sunshine State ahead of the national average of 24.4 kilograms.

In 2017, the highest ranking states for opioid sales were Tennessee (44.3 kilograms), Oklahoma (43.1) and Nevada (40.5).

New Mexico, ranked No. 29, was the first state to fall below the national average with a figure of 24.2 kilograms.

The states with the fewest sales were Minnesota (14.2) and Illinois (14.5). Washington, D.C., had the lowest number overall with 10.6.

Though there are significant declines in sales among the top ranked states, such as Florida, the “opioid crisis” is by no means nearing an end. On the contrary, three reports recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the U.S. life expectancy rate dropped for a third consecutive year due to the drug crisis and climbing suicide rates.

This is the longest sustained decline in expected lifespan since the period of 1915 to 1918 during World War I and a 1918 influenza pandemic, The Washington Post reported on Nov. 29.

The Smithsonian reported that Americans have shaved off about 0.1 years off their lifespans in each year since 2015, “bringing the latest projection to 78.6 years from 78.8 in 2015.”

Broken down by gender, the Smithsonian reported that men could expect to live an average of 76.1 years, down from 76.2 in 2016. Women could expect to live until 81.1, the same age projected in 2016.

“Today, the opioid crisis in America has become a public catastrophe,” ConsumerProtect said. “Drug overdose, many due to the abuse of opioids, is the new leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, overtaking automobile accidents and heart disease.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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