Sad News about Drug Deaths

Sad News about Drug Deaths September 19, 2011

This is very sad news: drug deaths now exceed traffic fatalities. From the LA Times.

Propelled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States, a Times analysis of government data has found.

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.

Public health experts have used the comparison to draw attention to the nation’s growing prescription drug problem, which they characterize as an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979.

Fueling the surge in deaths are prescription pain and anxietydrugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol. Among the most commonly abused areOxyContinVicodinXanax and Soma. One relative newcomer to the scene is Fentanyl, a painkiller that comes in the form of patches and lollipops and is 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Taylor G

    Let this be a call to the church to do her part.

  • Sonny Clark

    I wonder how drastic the drug related deaths would be if you included gang activity and all the many battles that take place on our borders that are cartel and drug lord related. It seems that the other face of terror we must deal with in our country is the war on drugs and its man facets.

  • Diane


    It sounds as if legal, prescription drugs are driving the problem. A young friend of ours just died after taking all her anti-depressants at one time in a burst of sadness, Given my own alarm at how many young peoplem in particulamr are taking legal “meds,” I’m glad others are looking at this problem.

  • TJJ

    Very sad and tragic. But alcohol, you know, the “other” legalized drug, causes far more deaths than drugs. According to the most recent CDC statistics, there were 75,000 alcohol related deaths.

  • Jeremy

    It’s the availability of legal drugs that’s the issue. There are ways to buy prescription drugs legally that have yet to be addressed. I currently live in a small town where this stuff is out of control. The usual elicit drugs aren’t very easy to get your hands on, but xanax, vicodin and the like are ridiculously easy to obtain.

    I wonder what would happen to those numbers if they included non-overdose drug-related deaths. My cousin shot himself a few years ago and the toxicology report stated that the levels of xanax and alcohol were so high in his system, he was probably completely unaware of what he was doing on any sort of significant conscious level.

  • My mother’s suicide was caused by prescription drugs and she long suffered from alcohol misuse. And indeed when substances are legal, problems with the substance can become predominant when other factors driving the use are at play. I suggest folks become acquainted with Mental Health First Aid ( for it is a great mental health literacy program designed for communities. There are so many underlying issues as to why people develop substance use problems. The information taught in MHFA helps connect people to appropriate professional resources and helps reduce stigma associated with mental illness. It is a great course designed to help improve and save lives and is an international movement.

    I also think that if medications are prescribed for anxiety (and not all are addictive), body oriented stress management techniques and psychotherapy should be highly encouraged. But there are no simple solutions to this complex problem and my blog response does not do this topic justice.

  • A recent survey showed only 12% of pastors, rabbis, priests had any training about addiction in Seminary.