For the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash, according to an analysis from the National Safety Council (NSC) released on Monday.
The odds of dying from an opioid overdose rose to one in 96, surpassing the odds for dying in a motor vehicle crash (one in 103).
“The nation’s opioid crisis is fueling the Council’s grim probabilities, and that crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl,” the NSC said in a press release on Monday.
Why This Matters
Opioid overdoses are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., while heart disease and cancer rank one and two respectively. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 49,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017.
The CDC estimates that the “total economic burden” of prescription opioid abuse costs the U.S. 78.5 billion dollars per year, which includes the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice cases.
“We’ve made significant strides in overall longevity in the United States, but we are dying from things typically called accidents at rates we haven’t seen in half a century,” Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics for the National Safety Council, said.
“This new analysis reinforces that we must consistently prioritize safety at work, at home and on the road to prevent these dire outcomes,” Kolosh added.
Lawmakers across the country, including Ohio’s new attorney general Dave Yost, have promised to tackle the opioid epidemic head-on.
“I’m convinced that we’re thinking about it in the wrong way and that we’ve got to change our thinking. The bottom line is that there are too many new addicts every year for the prosecution and law enforcement system and the addiction treatment system to handle,” Yost said in an interview with Local 12 news on Friday.
Ohio is one of the top five states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths, according to the NIDA.
More on the Subject
Of the individuals who are prescribed opioids to deal with chronic pain, 21 to 29 percent misuse their prescription, and as of 2015, approximately 2 million Americans suffer from substance abuse disorders related to opioid use.