COLORADO SPRINGS — For a second year in a row, life expectancy in Colorado dropped.

“This general metric of life expectancy dropping from almost an average of 81 years down to 78 years is a large drop over a two year period and compares to the kind of drop we had seen back in World War Two,” said Dr. Eric France, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Department of Public Health and Environment said the Coronavirus and drug overdose deaths are leading factors.

“Being the persistence of COVID related mortality here in Colorado which still continues to take a toll throughout 2020 and 2021,” said Kirk Bol, Manager of the Vital Statistics Program at the Department of Public Health and Environment. “Along with that are the growing numbers of fatal drug overdose deaths that occur here among Colorado residents as well.”

The State Department said a lot of people don’t know the drugs they are taking contain fentanyl.

“People are taking it, not knowing that it has fentanyl. And that can lead to these overdoses,” said Dr. Eric. “So we need to be sure people understand what risks are involved with taking drugs, particularly in a time when fentanyl is cheap and widely available.

To prevent overdose deaths, the State Department is working with community partners.

“There’s a lot of work in the state to try and prevent overdose deaths,” said Dr. France. “Of course, we have to do a lot of education through our community partners as well.”

Dr. France says there are other factors why life expectancy is dropping.

“There are these other aspects of health that are impacted. People may not take care of themselves in the same way, said Dr. France. “Their diabetes might get worse, their heart disease might get worse, and people might turn to drugs or alcohol in a way that puts them at higher health risks as well.”

To increase life expectancy, Dr. France advises to pursue healthy choices.

“Living a healthy lifestyle where you eat healthy foods, drink alcohol in moderation, get physical activity, don’t smoke keep up to date with your cancer screenings and manage your chronic diseases, all that will help you live a healthy life,” said Dr. France.