LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- New numbers show the opioid crisis hitting Kentucky especially hard.  

A report just released by the Department of Health and Human Services this month shows a drop in life expectancy, something that has not occurred in back-to-back years since the 1960s.

Dr. Jonathan Weeks, with Norton Healthcare, attributes much of the change to an increase in overdose deaths among young people.

“It's really not that surprising and it goes directly in line with the Heroin epidemic," Weeks said.

Weeks said Kentucky often ranks top five in the country when it comes to overdose deaths per resident.

“When we look at state statistics, the number of overdoses 2015 to 2016. We also saw about an 18 or 19 percent increase in overdoses in that one year period of time,” Weeks said.

In 2016, the latest numbers in the new report, the overdose death rate increased 28 percent for people ages 15 to 24, rose 29 percent for people ages 25 to 34 and jumped 24 percent for people ages 35 to 44.

“Actually, in the current context, it doesn’t surprise me,” Weeks said. “We’ve been suffering.”

Life expectancy is now at 78.6 years, a drop of .1 from the year before. While the number seems small, Weeks said it is substantial.

“This is in the context of really good aggressive efforts to reverse overdose by making Narcan more available,” Weeks said.

Weeks suggests a renewed effort to increase treatment efforts but cautions that even then it will take time to reverse the numbers. 

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