Life expectancy is down in the United States as a result of the opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced just before Christmas (see https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db293.htm). On the same day, in the American Journal of Public Health, a commentary called opioid overdoses one of the three “diseases of despair” that are killing Americans at a younger rate, alongside alcohol-related disease and suicide. That commentary, by Nabarun Dasgupta, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Leo Beletsky, J.D., M.P.H.; and Daniel Ciccarone, M.D., M.P.H., can be read at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304187. The bottom line: poverty, poor health, lack of opportunity, racism and despair are all inextricably linked as “root causes” of overdoses, according to the authors. Depressing news to end the year, but inspiring for people who want to make changes in 2018.