Dying of Despair

According to data published recently by the US Centers for Disease, overall life expectancy in America fell fractionally in 2017, from 78.7 to 78.6 years, marking the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy. 

Underlying the drop was a bad year for influenza and a slight increase in the toll of Alzheimer’s disease. But more significant was an increase in what some are referring to as “deaths of despair”: Suicides and drug overdoses.

To better understand the problem, we sat down with an expert on opioid pharmacology, pain and addiction, the Provost and Chief Academic Officer of Pacific Northwest University, Dr. Edward Bilsky.