By  Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

Drug overdoses, suicides, and also diseases involving internal organs have caused an increase in middle-aged deaths.  So much so that the life expectancy in the US has actually declined since 2014 after increasing for the previous 60 years.  The largest increase in deaths was in New England and the Ohio Valley. (Ken Pope:  US Life Expectancy Down in Recent Years After Increasing for Decades). 

Misuse of opioids has been a significant factor, along with poor access to healthcare providers, higher out-pocket costs that people can’t afford, as well as a lack of parity in insurance coverage for psychological health services (see recent blogs about the parity issue).  “Between 1999 and 2017, mid-life mortality from drug overdoses rose more than 385%.”  Liver disease, often due to substance abuse, and suicides have increased as well for this age group.

An emphasis on “monitoring prescription patterns” has resulted in potentially addictive pain medications being prescribed in much more limited amounts and far less often.  More access to addiction treatment is much needed, as well as developing and recommending alternative pain management therapies that do not rely on drug treatments. Psychologists and other mental health professionals have much to contribute in these ways.

Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-2772 or

Copyright 2020 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

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