A report released Thursday found more than 42,200 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Life expectancy in the U.S. fell for the second year in a row in 2016, nudged down again by a surge in fatal opioid overdoses, federal officials report Thursday.
“I’m not prone to dramatic statements,” says Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. “But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.”
The trend is especially concerning because life expectancy is considered an important indicator of the general well-being of a nation.
“It gives you sort of an overall sense of