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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 08, 2018 1:00 am

Opioid death rates exceed '68 Vietnam

Washington Post

Slightly less than 1 percent of all Americans who died in 1968 lost their lives while serving in the Vietnam War. Yet even the toll of that conflict's bloodiest year was less significant than that being caused by the opioid epidemic.

According to new research led by Dr. Tara Gomes of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, a staggering 1.5 percent of all American deaths in 2016 were attributable to opioids.

Opioids now account for 1 of every 5 deaths of Americans aged 25 to 34.

Because of its disproportionate toll on the young, the opioid epidemic robs Americans of more years of life than do prevalent late-life conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.

Gomes' research relied on CDC data, which are known to underestimate opioid overdoses by 20 percent to 35 percent.