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Quotables: Drug addiction’s deadly toll

gtrsynthopioids020917
Tribune-Review
Capt. Bob Stafford of the Greensburg Police Department holds an empty heroin stamp bag. There is an increasing number of drug overdose deaths related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in Westmoreland County. (Trib photo)

As the final days of 2017 gradually fade away, what isn’t fading is the scourge of drug abuse, most notably the opioid crisis. For the second consecutive year, life expectancy in the United States decreased, and officials say the opioid epidemic appears to be a contributing factor. “Unintentional injuries,” the fourth leading cause of death in 2015, rose to the third leading cause in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Among these, accidental drug overdoses claimed more than 63,000 lives last year. That figure hits especially close to home, as Pennsylvania was among states with the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2016 — 37.9 per 100,000 people.

“I’m not prone to dramatic statements. But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it.”

ROBERT ANDERSON

Chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics

“I was pretty shocked to see that our life expectancy has declined for the second year in a row. I think we should be very worried.”

ARUN HENDI

A sociologist at the University of Southern California

“It’s also a crisis in which people are killing themselves in much larger numbers —whites especially. Deaths from alcohol have been rising as well. So we think of it all being signs that something is really wrong and whatever it is that’s really wrong is happening nationwide.”

ANNE CASE

An economist at Princeton University who has been studying what she and her husband and fellow Princeton economist Angus Deaton call “Deaths of Despair”

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