A shocking new report is claiming that for the first time in history, Americans are now more likely to die from an accidental overdose than from injuries sustained in a car crash.
This new data analysis, compiled in the nonprofit National Safety Council’s Injury Facts report, finds lifetime odds of being killed by an overdose have risen to 1 in 96, while the chances of being killed in a motor vehicle collision are closer to 1 in 103. The organization arrived at these estimates after compiling 2017 mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics branch. “The nation’s opioid crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl,” the National Safety Council declared in a statement.
America’s opioid epidemic has been put under a national spotlight recently, as legislators at the federal and state levels continue to struggle with how to address this crisis properly. This past fall, the Senate passed measures to address widespread opioid addiction, following reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealing that over 49,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017. Another study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in December, stated that between 1999 and 2016, some 9,000 children and teens were killed by opioids as well.
Meanwhile, deaths from common accidents are also being linked to the opioid issue. The National Safety Council found that the chances of dying from a fall are up from 1 in 114 to 1 in 119.
“Any idea that this is just willpower and you ought to be able to get over it is completely contrary to what we know on the basis of strongest medical evidence,” says Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (or NIH). Around the same time Congress passed legislation last year, the NIH also pledged to fund long-term treatment programs for opioid addiction, as well as research into nonaddictive pain therapy.
Addiction is a disease and must be treated as such. With the opioid crisis reaching disturbing new heights all the time, it’s up to all of us to combat this terrible disease together, and seek help for ourselves and our loved ones when necessary.