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New report shows our life expectancy now at lowest it's been in decades

by Liz Bonis, WKRC Wednesday, August 31, 2022

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A new report released Wednesday says our life expectancy is now the lowest it’s been in decades. It’s the second year in a row we’ve seen what many are calling "astounding declines."

Our life expectancy is likely down now likely due to a number of things, including COVID-19 and, sadly, a rise in overdose deaths.

"I had a drug and alcohol problem and also suicidal thoughts there at the end," said Abby Rau. Rau got sober during the pandemic. She said years of drug and alcohol abuse nearly took her life.

"I just seen a black haze, like I didn't recognize myself," she said.

She's not alone. Overdose deaths hit a record high, killing nearly 110,000 people this past year. It likely contributed to a historic drop in our life expectancy, according to new data from the CDC. It shows our life expectancy from birth has dropped more than two-and-a-half years overall since the start of COVID-19. It's now at 76 years -- the biggest two-year decline in a century. COVID-19 deaths were responsible for half the decline, but that was followed by unintentional injuries, heart disease, chronic liver disease and suicide.

To overcome any of these, behavioral health specialists say we have to treat the whole person.

"Not just mental health, not just addiction, homelessness, employment," said Julie Kubin, the director of Addiction Services at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services.

Earl Redding says that likely helped turn his life around. A little more than a year ago, he was homeless and experiencing mental health problems. "We all need help. We just got to know when to ask for it," Redding said.

The good news is that Rau and Redding were recently selected to throw out the first pitch for the Cincinnati Reds' Overdose Awareness Game.

"It's exciting. I never thought I would be doing something like this," said Redding.

One thing you can do, providers say, for your own life expectancy is if you've missed routine care over the past few years, make an appointment with your primary care physician.

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