Itasca, IL – The odds of dying of an accidental opioid overdose have now surpassed the odds of dying in a car accident. According to the National Safety Council, the lifetime odds of dying from an opioid overdose in the U.S. are now greater than the risk dying in an auto accident, pedestrian incident, fire or from drowning.

The National Safety Council recently released its latest analysis on preventable injuries and fatalities. The report, using data from 2017, shows that the average American’s lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are now in one in 96.

Your odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are one in 103, and the odds of dying from a fall are one in 114. But the odds of dying by suicide are still higher with a one in 88 chance. “Too many people still believe the opioid crisis is abstract and will not impact them. Many still do not see it as a major threat to them or their family,” said NSC spokesperson Maureen Vogel. 

Many people become addicted to opioid medications, which are used to treat chronic pain. For instance, arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain. One in four pet dogs and 40 million Americans are affected by it.

If a patient’s over-the-counter pain relievers don’t relieve their pain, their doctor may prescribe them medications that are stronger such as Oxycodone. These opioid medications can affect the brain over time and can easily lead to addiction. 

“These data show the gravity of the crisis,” Vogel said. “We have known for some time that opioid overdose is an everyday killer, and these odds illustrate that in a very jarring way.” 

The NSC specifies that the lifetime odds indicated in the report are statistical averages over the whole U.S. population. The odds don’t reflect the changes of death for a particular person. In 2017, there were 169,936 preventable injury deaths. That’s a 5.3 percent increase from 2016 and a 95 percent increase from 1992.

“The data really underscores the importance of knowing the biggest risks to our safety,” said Vogel. “The Council calculates the Odds of Dying not to scare Americans but to empower them to make safer decisions and improve their chances of longevity.”

Empowering Americans to make safe decisions is one of the reasons why the number of retail medical clinics in the U.S. is 14 times higher today than it was 10 years ago. Up to 50 percent of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms every year, but very few visit a doctor.

This not only increases the risk of developing a chronic health condition later on, but it also increases the risk of dying from that health condition. The NSC highlights these facts and statistics as a way to help prevent future deaths from preventable causes. “For too long, preventable deaths and injuries have been called ‘accidents,’ implying unavoidable acts of God or fate that we are powerless to stop,” NSC researchers said. “This is simply not too. In the U.S., preventable injuries are at an all-time high.”  

In just one year, from 2016 to 2017, home and public deaths jumped 6 percent. This sharp increase was driven by an 11 percent increase in poisoning deaths and a 5 percent increase in fall deaths. In 2016, over 61,000 people between the ages of one and 44 died from an unintentional injury. And in 2018, unintentional injury was the  leading cause of death.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that these deaths were primarily related to motor vehicle accidents and unintentional poisonings. In a separate study by AAA, up to 500 people were killed in car accidents caused by dangerous debris over the course of four years.

Just last month, the CDC reported that life expectancy declined from 2016 to 2017. The cause? Drug overdoses and suicide.

Overdose deaths have reached an all-time high with 70,000 people dying per year, and the suicide rate has also increased by 3.7 percent. “What began more than two 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 U.S. society,” NSC researchers said.