Daily Digit: Drug overdose deaths have increased in the U.S. so much that life expectancy has dropped

Daily Digit is the story behind the numbers that make our world work. Today we’re looking at the deaths caused by drug overdoses. According to the CDC, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. Last year’s tally set a record — the figure is greater than the highest yearly number of deaths from car crashes, HIV/AIDS and gun violence. Synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, accounted for more than 28,000 overdoses. Overdose deaths have become so common that the U.S. life expectancy has dropped by nearly 4 months over the last three years. Early data indicates 2017 could be the peak, and overdose deaths are expected to decrease. But a lot more must still be done to decrease the mortality rate and provide treatment to drug users.