For the first time, Americans’ odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are higher than from a motor vehicle crash, a data analysis found.
Injury Facts, an analysis from the nonprofit group National Safety Council, found the lifetime odds of dying by an accidental opioid overdose were 1 in 96, and the odds of dying by motor vehicle crash were 1 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,” read a statement from the group published Monday.
The estimates used in the group’s analysis are based on 2017 mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 49,000 people died because of opioid overdoses in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Last fall, the Senate passed legislation to combat the opioid crisis.
During an interview with USA TODAY in October, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said the agency will fund longer-lasting treatments for people addicted to opioids, as well as develop nonaddictive therapies for people dealing with pain.
“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,” Collins said.
In a study published in December by the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 9,000 children and teens died from opioid poisoning from 1999 to 2016.
The National Safety Council’s analysis also found the odds of dying from a fall are 1 in 114, up from 1 in 119 a year ago.
“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,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council, in a statement.
In 2017, more than 169,000 preventable deaths were reported, up 5.3 percent from 2016, the council said.