Opioid Overdoses Fuel Rise in Accidental Deaths

Hospital emergency room ER

Opioid overdoses are fueling a sharp increase in accidental deaths in the United States, according to a new report by the National Safety Council (NSC).

The group found accidental deaths became the third-leading cause of fatalities in 2016 for the first time in more than a century, NPR reports. Accidents accounted for 161,374 deaths that year, up 10 percent from 2015. Common causes of accidental deaths include motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and poisoning—a category that includes accidental overdoses.

In a statement, NSC said, “The unprecedented spike [in accidental deaths] has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 from drugs including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and illicitly-made fentanyl.”

How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives

A variety of drugs and drug combinations carry the risk of fatal overdose. Emergency protocol for any suspected overdose includes calling 911. However, in the case of opioids, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life.

Naloxone- International Overdose Awareness Day 2017

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