ShareThis Page
Health

Opioid epidemic deadlier than Vietnam War, study says

| Thursday, June 7, 2018, 5:43 p.m.
This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)
This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

Slightly less than 1 percent of all Americans who died in 1968 lost their lives while serving in the Vietnam War. Yet even the toll of that conflict's bloodiest year was less significant than that being caused by the opioid epidemic.

According to new research, a staggering 1.5 percent of all American deaths in 2016 were attributable to opioids.

Young adults are being particularly hard hit by opioids, which now account for 1 of every 5 deaths of Americans aged 25 to 34. Dr. Tara Gomes of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, who led the research, emphasized the “immense contribution of opioid deaths to overall mortality among young adults, and the burden that this will have on society today, and into the future.”

Because of its disproportionate impact on the young, the opioid epidemic robs Americans of more years of life than do prevalent late-life conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer. According to Gomes and colleagues' research, the opioid epidemic resulted in almost 1.7 million years of lost life across the U.S. population in 2016.

Gomes's research relied on Centers for Disease Control data, which are known to underestimate opioid overdoses by 20-35 percent. Her team's findings thus, shockingly, represent a conservative estimate of the horrific impact of the opioid epidemic.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me