NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As we end the year, health researchers are delivering some sobering news. Life expectancy in the United States has experienced its second straight decline.

That’s something that hasn’t happened in nearly 60 years and you can blame the opioid crisis for it.

While life expectancy has dropped for two straight years in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control has reported two straight years of an annual increase in opioid-related overdose deaths of 20 percent.

More: Killer Tide. The Opioid Epidemic

As we stated when we began our series Killer Tide, young people are dying in record numbers in our communities from opioid and opioid-related overdoses. It is a public health emergency that many law enforcement officials in our area believe will only get worse before it gets better.

New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan says Staten Island leads the city in the number of opioid overdose deaths but per capita the problem in the Bronx is worse. Brennan told WCBS 880 that many people just don’t realize how pervasive the problem is.

“They don’t realize that many, many, people who are involved in their everyday lives are struggling with addiction,” Brennan said.

Bergen County’s Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal, soon to become New Jersey’s New Attorney General, says, “unfortunately the numbers continue to rise.”

He tells WCBS 880 that Bergen has had more overdose deaths, more NARCAN deployments and more NARCAN saves.

“Everything is skewing up this year,” he said.

Aside from the fact that more people are using these drugs than ever before, Grewal says he’s worried about the fact that the drugs out there are “more powerful than ever.”

So as we end this year and move into 2018, one strategy each of these experts recommends we continue is to focus on shining the spotlight on the pain and suffering this crisis is inflicting on our communities.

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