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Opioid epidemic: Life expectancy down for second year as drug overdose deaths continue to increase

Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 17:58:37-05

The average life expectancy for Americans has plummeted for the second year in a row and the opioid epidemic is exactly the reason why, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

"While our numbers are getting worse, so many people in our communities are dealing with this problem, I want people to walk away with a sense of hope," said Emily Metz.

Metz and her team are helping through the Office of Opioid Safety at Metro Health System. It rolled out a few months ago, but the plan is to make it bigger in 2018. She hopes this office will help to get to the root of the problem.

"Through that I mean safer prescribing for our patients, so we can provide education, advocacy and treatment for our system and we want to extend that out into the community," she said.

Overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County at of the beginning of December are at 724. With nearly a month not accounted for yet, the county is already surpassing last year's numbers of 666 opioid related deaths.

But those are just the people killed from drug use. The amount of Cuyahoga County residents who misuse or abuses opioid prescriptions could fill First Energy Stadium and those that transition to heroin could fill up Quicken Loans Arena.

"In 2015, two years ago we had about 50 percent of the children in foster care primarily because of their parents substance use," said Angela Sausser, the Executive Director of Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

Children are also falling victim to the crisis. Sausser says in a few years placement costs for children in foster care will increase by 176 million dollars

"If the opioid epidemic doesn't slow down, which there is no sign that it is going to slow down anytime soon, we will have in three years over 20,000 children in foster care on any given day," she said.