Odds of dying by accidental opioid overdose surpass odds of dying in car accident

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For the first time, a person in the U.S. is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle accident.

New analysis from the National Safety Council says the odds of dying by an accidental opioid overdose (1 in 96) have now surpassed the odds of dying in a car accident (1 in 103).

Drug Free Marion County Executive Director Randy Miller says the revelation isn’t shocking.

“Since 2013, so for the last 5 years, we’ve had an increasing number of deaths from opioids in Marion county,” Miller said.

In 2017,  there were 403 fatal drug overdoses in Marion county. 80% of those overdoses involved opioids. Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services reported administering 2170 doses of Narcan responding to overdose calls. In 2018 that total decreased to 1674 Narcan uses, however, IEMS officials say that doesn’t exactly mean there were fewer overdoses.

Miller says more money for program services and awareness is needed to combat the opioid crisis. He adds that over the past few years, resources for programs and awareness has increased, but so has the need.

“How can we put more prevention dollars out there for some more programming services, some awareness especially for young people,” he said.

A major focus in the fight against opioid addiction has shifted towards prevention. And in places like Hamilton County, more resources are being added to that fight.

Hamilton County overdose deaths have doubled the past 5 years. This year, first responders in Carmel and Westfield have been awarded a new grant that will help send a three-person team that includes a law enforcement officer, a firefighter and a peer recovery coach to overdose victim’s homes within 24 hours of being treated for an overdose.

“They’re finding from people that they didn’t feel they’d hit rock bottom. So if this team can get out there, get in that home within 24 hours, a really try to get the help that person needs, we can try to prevent them from falling back that hole again,” Carmel Fire Department public information officer Tim Griffin said.

Miller says programs like the quick response teams in Carmel and Westfield are crucial, but will likely take time before results are seen. He’s hopeful signs of progress will emerge soon.

“I hope to see some numbers indicating that we’re starting to turn the corner on this. But we haven’t seen those yet,” Miller said.

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