Life expectancy drops because of opioids, report says

- At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, ER Doctor Alexander Williams prepares for any scenario, but there's one popping up more frequently than he would like. 

"In a given 8 hour shift here we are going to see several," he said. He's talking about drug overdoses from heroin, which is often mixed with deadly Fentanyl.

 In a 15 minute period on this day, Dr.Williams treated three overdose patients. 

"I tell those people when they come in this is what poses their greatest health risk," he said. 

The CDC has taken note. 

A new report shows overdose deaths rose to 21% from 2015 to 2016. 

In 2016, the report shows 42,249 people died from opioid related overdoses. That's up from 28% in 2015. 

The overdose deaths have caused life expectancy to decline to 78.6%. It's a 0.1 decrease from 2015 and the second annual decline since 1962 and 1963. 

"If you are a 25-year-old or a 30-year-old on some of these drugs you are going to die most likely from that drug than suicide, or accidents, or heart disease or cancers," said Dr.Williams. 

Manatee County, once known as the hotbed of heroin-related deaths, is working to change that. 

"We are talking about people responsible for selling a drug in our community that they know kill people," said Sheriff Rick Wells Tuesday afternoon. 

Tuesday afternoon, Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells announced Operation Hot Batch, a joint collaboration between local and federal resources which targeted dealers. 

It's already led to 34 federal indictments against dealers with an additional 20 on the way. 

"We are not going after the users. We have compassion. We want them to get help. What we are really concentrating on is the people who are bringing these drugs into our county," said Sheriff's office spokesman Randy Warren. 

The operation seems to be helping. 

Manatee County reversed the trend seeing only 236 overdoses from the second half of 2016 compared to 1076 from 2015. That's a 78% decrease. 

"If the numbers are showing that life expectancy in the U.S. is going down and these types of drugs are playing a roll in it then good law enforcement good investigative work getting rid of the supply is going to make a difference," said Warren. 
 

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