Americans more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident

EVERETT, Wash. -- For the first time on record, the odds of accidentally dying from an opioid overdose in the United States are now greater than those of dying in an automobile accident.

The grim finding comes from the National Safety Council which analyzed preventable injury and fatality statistics from 2017.

"It doesn’t alarm me unfortunately," said Mark Beatty with the Snohomish County Health District.

He says just like anyone can die in a car accident, anyone can get addicted to opioids.

“It's cross cutting, it’s not just homeless, it’s not just young guys, it’s affecting everyone in every economic class.”

The National Safety Council found the odds of dying accidentally from opioid overdose in the United States are 1 in 96, compared to 1 in 103 for dying in a car accident.

“It’s risky medication,” said Beatty about opioid medication.

Since 2011, which was Snohomish County’s peak year of opioid-related deaths, at 145, the county has seen a drop. Beatty says their data does include suicides, not just accidental opioid deaths. In 2018, the number was 103.

“The numbers have kind of leveled off around 100, what’s been changing is the drug,” said Beatty.

He says fentanyl has played a huge part in the opioid crisis locally and nationally.

“The number of deaths have doubled due to fentanyl compared to last year,” said Beatty.

He says as a county they’ve been vigilant about getting naloxone into the community to help with the crisis and continue to work on lowering the numbers.

“Every one of these deaths are preventable.”

“I would personally be careful about taking opioid because they are very addictive. There’s really no way to tell who is going to be the one who gets addicted, it just happens.”

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