US life expectancy has risen for the first time since a sharp decline began in 2014 from 78.6 years in 2017 to 78.7 years in 2018, as reported by new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Until 2018, life expectancy had shown a continuous decline since it peaked in 2014 at 78.9 years. The downward trend was largely attributed to the increase in opioid overdose deaths as a result of the opioid abuse epidemic that swept the nation in recent years. GlobalData epidemiologists estimate that there were approximately 4.5 million people in the US with classifiable opioid use disorder in 2018.

In 2018, there was a decline in overall drug-related overdose deaths in the US for the first time in over a decade. Opioids and related substances still contributed the largest share of overdose deaths in 2018 with more than 47,000 deaths directly involving an opioid. However, if this trend continues and drug-related deaths are declining, the US could see further improvements in overall life expectancy in the coming years.

Globally, life expectancy in the US still lags behind that of other developed nations, placing it outside of the top 30 nations. In addition to reducing drug overdose deaths, improving access to care, especially maternal and elder care, may also contribute to improving the overall life expectancy in the US.