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Death from Drug Overdose Now Outnumbers Traffic Fatalities

Home / Pat Olsen / Death from Drug Overdose Now Outnumbers Traffic Fatalities

Death from Drug Overdose Now Outnumbers Traffic Fatalities

Every so often you read about the number of traffic fatalities in an area. The newspaper may report that they’ve been increasing or decreasing, as the case may be. If traffic deaths aren’t disturbing enough, then here’s another bit of news: Drug deaths [from overdoses] now outnumber traffic deaths in the U.S.Argue with judge.jpg

That’s an actual headline from a September L.A. Times article. If that wasn’t enough to catch readers’ interest, a couple of paragraphs surely did:

“Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are an exception. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety.”

One of the two journalists that broke the story then did an interview with NPR.

Many of these deaths result when people—often young people—mix prescription pain pills or anxiety medication with other drugs or alcohol. That’s reminiscent of Joan’s post on “Xanax and Alcohol – Taking Two Monsters at a Time.”

One teen featured in the article mixed Zoloft, two additional anti-anxiety drugs, morphine, pot and other drugs.

The article reminded me of steps different states are taking to try and save lives of people that OD. Washington and New Mexico have passed a law that frees people from suffering legal consequences if someone they’re with overdoses and they call for help. Now a family in my state, NJ, is seeking a drug immunity law after their son died because no one called for help for him when he OD’d on heroin.

One non-profit has found that “accidental drug overdoses cause the death of more than 26,000 Americans every year.”  The laws are a ray of hope in a bad situation. Hopefully all states will have them soon.


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