Drug overdoses killed more Americans in 2016 (64,000) than were lost in the entire 20 years of the Vietnam War (58,220); so it stands to reason that drugs would be responsible for an uptick in deadly accidents, as well as a downturn in life expectancy.
What doesn’t stand to reason are the numbers -- or the why behind the rise and fall.
According to a PR Newswire statement issued by the National Safety Council, “unintentional, preventable injuries – commonly known as ‘accidents’ – claimed a record high 161,374 lives in 2016 to become the third leading cause of death in the United States for the first time in recorded history.”
“An American is killed every three minutes by a preventable event – a drug overdose, a motor vehicle crash, a fall, a drowning, a choking incident or another preventable incident.”
Yes, you dead that correctly. Preventable events killed Americans every three minutes, a 10 percent increase over 2015 -- “the largest single-year percent rise since 1936.”
While “the unprecedented spike [in accidental deaths] has been fueled by the opioid crisis,” drug overdoses are only part of the attributing factor.
As CBS News’ Steven Reinberg pointed out, Columbia University “researchers report a sevenfold increase in the number of drivers killed in car crashes while under the influence of prescription painkillers.”
"The opioid epidemic has been defined primarily by the counts of overdose fatalities," said Dr. Guohua Li, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, co-author if the report, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health. "Our study suggests that increases in opioid consumption may carry adverse health consequences far beyond overdose morbidity and mortality."
"The significant increase in proportion of drivers who test positive for prescription pain medications is an urgent public health concern," echoed lead researcher Stanford Chihuri.
Naturally, with every rise comes a fall, and the rise in the number of overdoses and car crashes comes coincident with the gravest fall of all -- life expectancy.
“Life expectancy in the U.S. fell for the second year in a row in 2016, nudged down again by a surge in fatal opioid overdoses, federal officials report.”
"I'm not prone to dramatic statements," says Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics. "But I think we should be really alarmed. The drug overdose problem is a public health problem, and it needs to be addressed. We need to get a handle on it."
“The trend is especially concerning because life expectancy is considered an important indicator of the general well-being of a nation.”
“The last time the U.S. life expectancy dropped was in 1993 because of the AIDS epidemic” writes Stein. “Life expectancy hasn't fallen two years in a row in the U.S. since the early 1960s.”
Again, it stands to reason that the rise in how we die begat a fall in how long we live; we at Recovery Boot Camp, however, consider the numbers to be unreasonable, and we won’t stand for it. In fact, we don’t stand for it either. And day-in and day-out, you’ll see we’re the sort of addiction treatment facility that never, ever will stand for such an unreasonable toll.