Drug and alcohol addiction can cause health complications, overdose and rapid deterioration of the body’s functions, resulting in long-term illness and early death.
Article at a Glance:
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol reduces life expectancy.
- Opioids, alcohol and psychostimulants like meth can be highly lethal.
- More than 90,000 Americans died due to drug overdose in 2020.
- Alcohol contributes to more than 95,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
How the Opioid Crisis Impacts American Life Expectancy
The average life expectancy in the United States has dropped in the last year and a half. While the pandemic is partially to blame, another significant factor is the nationwide opioid addiction crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that between May 2019 and May 2020, overdose death rates rose to the highest level ever recorded in a 12-month span. This staggering statistic reveals how devastating the opioid addiction continues to be in the United States.
Life Expectancy By Drug Type
What is the life expectancy of an opioid user?
- In the U.S. in 2019, opioid overdose deaths accounted for:
- 3,683 people aged 24 or younger
- 13,309 people aged 25–34
- 12,425 people aged 35–44
- 10,015 people aged 45–54
- 9,290 people aged 55 or older
What is the life expectancy of a meth user?
- People who die from methamphetamine use are generally aged 15–64.
- People aged 45–54 have the highest rate of methamphetamine overdose deaths.
What is the life expectancy of an alcohol user?
- Alcohol use contributes to around 95,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
- These alcohol-related deaths reduce lifespan by an average of 29 years.
The Impact of Substance Use on a Drug User’s Life Expectancy
Over 90,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020. By comparison:
- More than 58,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
- More than 43,000 died from HIV/AIDS at the peak of the epidemic in 1995.
- Close to 40,000 were killed by guns in the deadliest year of firearms deaths (2017).
Drug overdose deaths in 2020 were deadlier than any of these tragic national events.
The Continuing Opioid Crisis in the U.S.
Opioids continue to play a detrimental role in lowering the lifespans of people who struggle with addiction. Consider the following statistics and how opioids put millions of Americans at risk each day:
- In 2019, 10.1 million people aged 12 or older had abused opioids within the prior year.
- Opioids caused two out of three overdose deaths in 2018.
- Synthetic opioid overdose deaths increased by 10% between 2017 and 2018.
- Opioids are involved in seven out of 10 overdose deaths.
Get Help for Drug Addiction Now
Addiction can be difficult to recover from alone, but help is available at The Recovery Village. Our comprehensive drug addiction rehab services begin with medical detox, which helps clients overcome uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Clients then move on to the intensive treatment phase and receive therapy, counseling and ongoing support as they learn how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. Our medical experts are also able to address any co-occurring disorders that may be present, such as anxiety or depression.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol, The Recovery Village is here to help you begin the recovery journey. Contact us today to speak with a representative and learn more about treatment programs that can work well for you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Overdose Deaths Accelerating During Covid-19.” December 17, 2020. Accessed October 16, 2021.
KFF. “Opioid Overdose Deaths by Age Group.” 2019. Accessed October 16, 2021.
Calcaterra, Susan; et al. “National trends in psychostimulant-related deaths: 1999-2009.” Substance Abuse, 2013. Accessed October 16, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Deaths for Excessive Alcohol Use in the U.S.” January 14, 2021. Accessed October 16, 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vital Statistics Rapid Release: Provisio[…]verdose Death Counts.” October 13, 2021. Accessed October 16, 2021.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Opioid Crisis Statistics.” February 12, 2021. Accessed October 16, 2021.
National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. “Drug Abuse Statistics.” Accessed October 16, 2021.
National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. “Opioid Epidemic: Addiction Statistics.” Accessed October 16, 2021.
Gramlich, John. “What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S.” Pew Research Center, August 16, 2019. Accessed October 22, 2021.
Holmes, Steven. “AIDS Deaths in U.S. Drop by Nearly Half As Infections Go On.” The New York Times, October 8, 1998. Accessed October 22, 2021.
National Archives. “Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics.” January 2018. Accessed October 22, 2021.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.