Deaths by Opioid Overdose Exceed Those in Car Accidents

Source: zerbor - 123RF

Findings by the National Safety Council (NSC) show that for the first time on record, your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than dying in a motor vehicle crash.

The odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96, while motor vehicle accidents were 1 in 103, and 1 in 114 for falls. The lifetime odds of suicide were greater, at 1 in 88.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that opioid overdose deaths increased from 2016 to 2017. On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.

These deaths represent 87% of the total 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States, which also include suicide, homicide, and undetermined intents.

The findings also show the lifetime odds of death for this form of overdose were greater than the risk of death from falls, pedestrian incidents, drowning, and fire.

The NSC also finds that in just 10 minutes, in the United States, preventable accidents, ranking as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease, will cause:

  • Three people to die;
  • 847 people to suffer an injury severe enough to require a doctor or medical professional, and
  • Incur $18.42 million in costs.

However, there is a glimmer of hope in some regions.

The Wall Street Journal reports that several states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are on pace to record fewer overdose deaths in 2017, compared with the year before.

This follows years of fast-rising death tolls in the region, which has long been a hot spot for fatal overdoses.

State officials say their efforts, ranging from widespread distribution of an overdose-rescue drug to expanded treatment access, are starting to bear fruit.

According to the CDC, Naloxone is a very effective drug for reversing opioid overdoses. Police officers, EMS providers, and non-emergency professional responders carry the drug for that purpose.

The Surgeon General of the United States is also urging others who may encounter people at risk for an opioid overdose, to have naloxone available and to learn how to use it to save lives.

In California, CVS pharmacies offer this treatment to the general public.