On Star Trek, Spock held up his hand with all fingers extended and joined except his fourth and third fingers. They were spread apart in the iconic ‘V’ gesture meaning “Live Long and Prosper.” Clearly, he was not talking about the United States because in America, life expectancy continues to plunge despite our prosperity.
Snapshot of Nation’s Overall Health
We don’t need things to get worse. As a nation, we already rank an absurd 37th in health by the World Health Organization and 26th in longevity. Our longevity is a measure of our collective health and our standing is not good news. We are the most obese nation in the world with the exception of a half dozen tiny African countries. And we rank 29th in infant mortality. What is wrong with this picture?
These statistics demonstrate what we bought in health after spending over 16.9% of our GDP on health, or $3.3 trillion dollars a year, or over $10,000 per American. That is far more than any other country on earth per capita.
But Wait, There’s More...
As life expectancy around the globe is steadily ticking upward, the US has dropped for the third year in a row, down to 78.6 years from 2015’s 78.8. How do we rank by country internationally? Take a look at this graphic...
What is Driving These Grim Statistics?
Drug overdoses claimed 70,237 lives in 2017, and suicides, which numbered more than 47,000 over the same period, were significant contributors to this decrease in longevity. Both of these figures rose between 2016 and 2017.
It's Not Just Aging
You can factor into this the increasing ages of the baby boomers, and the population generally growing older, but an inordinate number are dying in their twenties and thirties. The main reason should be obvious by now: opioid drugs (Oxycodone, Oxycontin and now Fentanyl). According to an article by Erin Durkin in The Guardian, “The overall number of deaths across the U.S. totaled 2.8 million, or 69,255 more than in 2016.”
Josh Katz and Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times note that the rising number of overdose deaths corresponds with the growing use of illegal synthetic opioids known as fentanyl. Deaths involving fentanyl increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone, while deaths from legal painkillers remained stable from 2016 to 2017.
OD Deaths Mostly Unintentional
The majority of drug overdose deaths were unintentional, according to the NCHS report. Seven percent of those deaths were determined to be suicides. Overall, suicides were up by 3.7 percent in the US in 2017.
Since 1999, the overall national suicide rate has increased by 33 percent.
Suicide Contributes to Decline in Life Expectancy
The increase in suicides did not change it as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for the past 10 years in a row, but the NCHS report did list it as another reason for the decline in life expectancy.
A side effect of these opioids, legal and illegal, is depression, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Then if that wasn’t bad enough, a synthetic opioid painkiller, Fentanyl, that is 100 times stronger than any other opioid, appears. Much is imported from across the border.
Just because there’s a more vicious killer on the streets doesn’t mean the legal prescriptive opioids are off the hook (or less dangerous). They are what created the opioid crisis to begin with, particularly with the Sackler brothers creating and marketing oxycodone and oxycontin for Purdue Pharma.
This was the beginning of the flood. They had never been tested, just sold by the millions, addicting and killing Americans right and left. Many addicts devolved into heroin use and then the deadly Fentanyl started showing up mixed in with many drugs sold on the black market. Big Pharma pulled the trigger and the rest is history.
Way Out of the Trap
Man has forever been burdened by pain and he will do anything to avoid it. The answers have been, until now, only grin and bear it or painkillers. Today’s health care world handles everything by pills or invasive surgery but that is not the answer. More than half of the pain cases are resolved otherwise.
Integration is the Answer
An integrated clinic with a chiropractor, MD, physical therapist and/or other health care specialist who work together to find the real non-drug, non-surgery answer is the solution. They work in concert to find the root of the problem and work upward to resolve the basic malady and handle it for good – without drugs or surgery - unless totally necessary.
Doctors should simply stop giving a pill for every ache, or every complaint. In an integrated clinic there are other answers, the healthcare model of the future will remove the scourge of dangerous drugs and cut down on the need for invasive, dangerous surgery.
Want to learn more about medically integrating your practice? CLICK HERE or follow us on YouTube and find out how our approach is helping to bring regenerative medicine into the mainstream and fight against the opioid crisis. Open up new opportunities for your patients, your practice, and your business - call us at 1-888-777-0815 today.