Alcohol, drugs contribute to decreased life expectancy in Wisconsin

Life expectancy in Wisconsin has declined for the second straight year, due in large part to an increase in deaths caused by alcohol, drugs and suicide, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

life expectancy

Babies born between 2015-17 had a life expectancy of 80 years, down from 80.1 in 2014-16 and 80.2 in 2013-15. Though the decreases are slight, they buck a longstanding trend in which individuals could be expected to live as long or longer than those born before them.

The consecutive decreases in life expectancy come at the same time as an increase in the rate of deaths due to alcohol, drugs and suicide. Total drug and alcohol deaths in Wisconsin have more than tripled since 1999, increasing at an accelerated rate in the last few years.

The report also notes the increase in alcohol, drug and suicide deaths is offsetting positive medical trends, such as a decrease in deaths due to heart disease and stroke. While the overall mortality rate among Wisconsin’s older population has declined, it has increased considerably for adults in their 20s and 30s who are less often subject to frequent killers such as heart disease and stroke.

With the data suggesting policy efforts to curb drug and alcohol abuse are warranted, the Policy Forum expressed hope that its report may add urgency to the debate around measures that can reverse such troubling trends.

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