According to a new report from the National Safety Council, for the first time since they began recording statistics about “accidental” deaths, Americans are more likely to die from an accidental drug overdose than from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
CNN reports that the NSC, after examining data collected from state and federal agencies, determined that the risk of dying from an opioid overdose is now greater than the risk of dying from “falls, pedestrian incidents, drowning, and fire.”
According to the report, “the lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96. For motor vehicle accidents the odds were 1 in 103 and 1 in 114 for falls.” Only the lifetime odds of dying from suicide or “accidentail injury” were greater.
The number of accidental “poisoning deaths,” which include opioid and other drug overdoses, has risen 11% year over year, from 2016 to 2017. In 2017, deaths from accidental overdoses reached an all-time high, topping 70,000.
The new data underscores information from other government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, which just last month noted that, largely because of the opioid crisis, American life expectancy has declined, overall, for the first time in decades — and that children and young adults are specifically affected.
“What began more than 2 decades ago as a public health problem primarily among young and middle-aged white males is now an epidemic of prescription and illicit opioid abuse that is taking a toll on all segments of US society,” that study indicated.
The synthetic opioid Fentanyl is now the drug of choice for most people who abuse opioids, and Fentanyl use has been on a steady rise in the United States since 2016. It’s also the drug most likely to be the culprit in overdose deaths, according to figures released in December by the CDC.
Law enforcement officials have tried to stress the dangers of Fentanyl, but often to no avail; recently, a number of officials have noted a rise in “mass drug overdoses” affecting Fentanyl users living in specific areas. In one such case from just last week, 13 people in Chico, California, were sickened by tainted Fentanyl. One user died.
The White House has made the interdiction of illicit drugs, including Fentanyl, a centerpiece of its agenda, and most recently, President Donald Trump has connected his plan to place a wall across the southern border to anti-drug trafficking efforts.
The White House claims that new, stronger efforts to curb illegal immigration will have a dampening effect on the Fentanyl trade. Even though much of the Fentanyl sold in the United States comes from China and enters the country through sea ports, a significant amount does come through Mexico; drug cartels import raw materials, then synthesize and traffic Fentanyl across the United States’ southern border. Most of the heroin consumed in the United States comes from Mexico, according to both the White House and The Washington Post.