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Opioid Overdose Tops List of Leading Causes of Death in the U.S.

December 30, 2021

The odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose in the U.S. are greater than those of dying in a car accident, according to findings from the National Safety Council (NSC). The lifetime odds of an overdose are 1 in 96 compared with 1 in 103 for vehicular death.

"These data show the gravity of the crisis," an NSC spokesperson told CNN. "We have known for some time that opioid overdose is an everyday killer, and these odds illustrate that in a very jarring way."

A 2018 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports this finding, identifying unintentional injury as the leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2016, unintentional injury claimed the lives of 61,000 people aged 1 to 44 years, according to the report. Motor vehicle accidents and unintentional poisonings, which includes drug overdoses, are the primary causes. The CDC recently reported that life expectancy in the U.S. declined from 2016 to 2017 due to an uptick in drug overdoses and suicides.

Source: CNN, January 14, 2019.

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