TERRE HAUTE Ind. (WTHI)- Nationwide life expectancy rates have been dropping over the last three years.
The last time the U.S. saw a decrease in the life expectancy age was 100 years ago.
That's when thousands of young people died in World War I and from the Spanish flu.
In 2017 there were 70,000 deaths from drug overdose in our country.
Many people say there's an opioid epidemic in our country, and that includes Doctor Randy Stevens.
He works at Union Hospital in Terre Haute.
Stevens said part of the problem is over-prescribing pain medication.
"What we didn't recognize is that we would help create a crisis with an opioid epidemic in this country," said Stevens.
Rebecca Williams is a Terre Haute resident.
She also agrees this has become a national problem.
"I think the drug abuse is a cultural phenomenon that has taken over many communities," said Williams.
Williams said social media also plays a big role.
She said there also seems to be a sense of carelessness in younger generations.
Doctor Stevens said monitoring the number of prescription drugs given to patients will help reduce the number of deaths from overdose.
"We will see a decreasing number of opiate overdose deaths. If we see that we know that we're probably now changing the culture again, and that is that we're getting down to the appropriate use of the medications," said Stevens.
Doctor Stevens said more people are dying annually from drug overdoses than cancer.
Another 40,000 deaths from suicide were reported last year.
That's a 3.7 percent increase from the year before.
The rise of deaths from these two causes has dropped the life expectancy rate to nearly 78 years old.
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