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Settled Science: Opioid overdose claims more lives than car crashes

Settled Science: Opioid overdose claims more lives than car crashes

The data suggest that the statistics are likely to be even grimmer next year.

We recently noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that drug overdose deaths surpassed 72,000 in 2017, with fentanyl overdoses contributing significantly to this grim, new statistic.

New analysis of mortality statistics shows that for the first time in American history, the odds of dying from an opioid overdose are higher than those of dying in a car crash.

The National Safety Council report used data from the National Center for Health Statistics – Mortality Data for 2017, the 2017 U.S. population and the average life expectancy to approximate the one-year and lifetime odds of someone dying from selected external causes, including heart disease (1 in 6 chance), cancer (1 in 7) and suicide (1 in 88). It determined the lifetime odds dying from an accidental opioid overdose for a person born in 2017 were 1 in 96, while the chances of that same person dying from a motor vehicle crash were 1 in 103.

“The nation’s opioid crisis is fueling the Council’s grim probabilities, and that crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl,” the nonprofit said in a statement released Monday.

And grim is the appropriate word. For example, California authorities are reporting that the powerful opioid fentanyl is responsible for a mass overdose event that left one person dead and hospitalized over a dozen others.

Even a couple of first responders got sick from the reported toxins in the home.

Police responded to a call at a home on early Saturday morning.

When they arrived, they found one man dead and had to taken 12 people to the hospital.

The Butte County coroner identified the man who died as Aris Turner, 34, of Chico, KRCR reported.

“We had a mass casualty event also known as an MCI. At one point we had six CPRs in progress,” said Jesse Alexander, Chico Fire Dept. division chief.

In addition to that, two police officers were taken to the hospital after they said they started to feel sick.

It has not been confirmed, but police said signs point to poisoning from fentanyl, an opioid often mixed with heroin or cocaine.

“So every indication is that this is a mass overdose incident was caused from the ingestion of some form of fentanyl in combination with another substance, although that is yet to be confirmed,” said Police Chief Mike O’Brien.

Fentanyl’s chemical structure makes it far more lethal than other opioids, with which users may be more familiar. Furthermore, there is a narrower range between a “safe” dose and a deadly one than for other drug substances.

Sadly, overdosing isn’t limited to drug users either.

A Detroit-area couple has been charged in the opioid overdose of their 18-month-old daughter who died on Christmas Day.

Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith told the Detroit Free Press that an autopsy showed Ava Floyd had ingested up to 15 times the amount of fentanyl authorities had seen in the county’s last 30 overdose deaths.

Smith’s office says 28-year-old Antonio Floyd and 27-year-old Shantanice Barksdale were arraigned Monday and jailed on second-degree murder charges. They face Jan. 29 preliminary examinations.

Smith says the couple was producing fentanyl in their Clinton Township home, and authorities believe the baby drank something containing the drug.

Finally, some addicts are using their pets to get access to fentanyl.

A new study by Penn Medicine and Penn Vet has uncovered a 41 percent increase in opioids prescribed for pets over a 10-year period, but only a 13 percent bump in the number of pet hospital visits.

The prescription spike could have been driven by the complex care offered at a veterinary hospital like Penn’s, as well as the desire to spare beloved pets from pain, according to the study authors.

On the other hand, it might also mean all those prescriptions didn’t go to Fido and Fluffy.

“As we are seeing the opioid epidemic press on, we are identifying other avenues of possible human consumption and misuse,” said senior study author Jeanmarie Perrone, director of medical toxicology at Penn Medicine. “Even where the increase in prescribed veterinary opioids is well intended by the veterinarian, it can mean an increased chance of leftover pills being misused later by household members.”

The data suggest that the statistics are likely to be even grimmer next year.


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legacyrepublican | January 18, 2019 at 7:15 am

This is a real man made problem. A sad one too.

Of course, when Trump brings it up …. crickets.

    RufusVonDufus in reply to legacyrepublican. | January 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Bless their little hearts, they are making a choice.

    This business of a “drug crisis” has problems. I don’t see many instances of drug overdose leading to death in my practice. Doctors are being blamed for giving out too many prescriptions for narcotics. From what I see, they are not giving enough. My state has very strict guidelines on prescribing, as well as other states around me and this is resulting in patients going about with pain that is un-necessary. Opiates are the only drugs that the US allows for pain relief, all others have been un-necessarily with drawn or are not allowed into our country. Patients are told to take INSAIDs, yet these drugs cause GI bleeding, are incompatible with most other medications, cause myocardial infarcts and are one of the leading reasons for renal failure and dialysis. Opiates are much safer. The US is the only country in the world that is having a “crisis” with opiates. But you can buy many of these drugs across the counter without a doctor. Recently I had the head of drug suppression in my office for my region (as a patient), I asked him about this “crisis” issue and he does not see it. People worry about addiction with medications, it does not exist. Most of the people who abuse these drugs are self-treating mental health issues. Others are doing it for recreation. They are not addicted. Certainly, some drugs, such as alcohol, carry some physiologic consequence with abrupt cessation of use. But most drugs are of no consequence to stoppage. We do need a change in what we are doing and that change should be elimination of restrictions on drug use.

      As a sufferer of chronic pain I agree with you. So, does my doctor. The way Virginia monitors drug prescriptions, It would be nearly impossible for a doctor to run a “pill mill”, unless the State wasn’t paying attention. I’m not sure why many are purposely conflating “legal” drug abuse, with “street” drug abuse. I see very few lives being saved by restricting doctors any further. What I do see is people’s lives being made unnecessarily harder, so politicians can preen that they are doing something. Just guessing here, but if we encouraged young men to believe they can lead a purposeful and impactful life, instead of accusing them of “toxic masculinity”, we could greatly reduce this “crisis”.

        david7134 in reply to rayc. | January 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm

        I had a WWII vet in the office a few years ago. He did not have a life as he was in pain and could not get the required drugs as the politicians had put a number of blocks between him and treatment, such as a drug screen every 3 months, that he felt were beneath his dignity. He was in tears. It made me so mad that I could not see straight. This was all due to the fact the so-called news had come up with another issue and were on the jerk politicos. Something has to be done, but no one will listen as they are all so righteous. Then when alone they go to their stash and get high. I can assure you from personal experience that the politicians get whatever drugs they desire.

Interesting. I am pretty sure I would have a 100% chance of dying in a car crash over dying from a Fentanyl OD. I have the power to choose NOT to take Fentanyl if offered, yet I have no control over the junkie that passes out behind the wheel and plows into my car. I guess I could give up driving and stay home, and live off the government teat.

    I hear ya, but there are LOT of people who have been prescribed Opioid-based pain killers for legitimate reasons and then found themselves hooked.

    This is not just happening to ‘junkies’ it is happening to regular everyday people whose lives are spinning out of control because these drugs are so incredibly powerful, addictive and plentiful.

      david7134 in reply to Paul. | January 18, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      I studied this and found there is no such thing as addiction. I care for post op CV surgery patients and routinely gave out 90 Percocet pills to various patients daily for 40 years, no addiction. Much of what you have been told and are being told is wrong. Doctors are not the ones involved in this “crisis”, it is drugs coming from China. Most countries do not have our problems with drugs and you can buy many narcotics across the counter without a doctor.

        Maybe you’re right with respect to Opioids not being addictive. My personal experience has been that I took Percocet for a couple of weeks at a time at several times during my life. I never felt like I was getting hooked on it; in fact I wanted to stop taking it so I could have a normal bowel movement again after a week or so. A couple of those with a couple of snorts of scotch sure feels nice.

        With cocaine, on the other hand, I can tell you from experience that there is most definitely “such a thing” as addiction. I let that monkey get on my back when I was young and by the grace of God I kicked it without ruining my life first.

        I saw your other post where you note that the US is the only country having this problem. I truly wonder if China isn’t dumping Fentanyl on us as a form of undeclared “warfare.” Trump Derangement Syndrome is a triumph of Russian psyops (targeting the Dims and stirring them into a frenzy of irrationality)… why not physical attacks from the Chicomms to hollow out our younger generations?

        Interesting article over at The Federalist today running counter to your viewpoint on this:

    MajorWood in reply to scooterjay. | January 18, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    I’m sorry. A junkie that owns a car? You lost me there.

Aside from the partying addiction issue for the moment…Medical science needs to come up with a non-narcotic solution for those of us suffering from intractable neurogenic pain syndrome, from which I’ve been suffering like a bastard since March 2016.

Thus far, I’ve had steroid injections into various spinal regions, trigger point therapy, therapeutic massage, yoga therapy, neurotomies, and more. But none of these control the pain very well, and my lifestyle has had to be drastically altered to the extent that I can. Difficult to adjust because I am my husband’s post-stroke caregiver AND I have to work to pay the bills. Never mind that I’m 67 years old!

Medical science has let us down by not developing effective alternatives to opioids.

    Chiropractic and acupuncture work very well for chronic pain. Sorry if it sounds “out there,” but it’s true.

      david7134 in reply to Valerie. | January 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm

      So does a good massage same thing.

      Cleetus in reply to Valerie. | January 19, 2019 at 5:38 am

      Do you have any real experience with long term, chronic, debilitating pain? I did not think so.

      My wife suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and the after effects of a car wreck where her ankles were crushed and rebuilt with the help of 14 surgeries and a lot of metal hardware. She suffers from chronic pain and has been told time and again by people who have never suffered from chronic pain that NSAIDS, acupuncture, massage, hot/cold treatment, chiropractic treatments, and so many other things, will work in lieu of opioids. It is such a terrible lie that you hear people in pain clinics everywhere talking about it with great contempt.

      My wife has been living this for over 20 years now. She has tried everything and nothing works. Likewise, I suffered an injury where multiple vertebrae in my back were crushed and have suffered chronic debilitating pain for almost 35 years and have been forced to try all of these great alternatives. THEY DO NOT WORK!
      Do I or my wife like taking these medicines? No. We would do anything to be rid of them, but they control the pain and give us what nothing else can – a semblance of a normal life. As such we have no choice but to either take these miracle medicines of suffer terribly. It is not a difficult choice.

      In the future, please refrain from speaking about these alternatives if you have no experience (and it is the extremely rare [as in nonexistent] person who has true debilitating chronic pain who recommends these quack cures). All is does it to anger the huge numbers of us who have been forced to endure all kinds of pain trying these quack cures while listening to others who have no clue tell us how they all work so very well. We do not like being shackled to these drugs, but I can tell you that if you remove them from the doctor’s toolkit and force my wife to go without, then my wife would rather kill herself than go through that pain.

        david7134 in reply to Cleetus. | January 19, 2019 at 4:53 pm

        I have a crushed T12 vertebra and I am restricted in everything that I do. I also have decades of experience as a physician and having to deal with charlatans of every type, both MD’s and so called alternatives. Acupuncture may have some benefit for selected individuals, but chiropractors are nothing but criminals and have done serious harm to patients that I know. Are you aware that chiropractors manipulating the neck cause strokes 30% of the time (documented in medical lit). Chiropractors are likened to a physical therapy center at best. Now, I can have any opinion I desire and just because your wife has an illness, I will express my opinion. You can share you isolate experience, but don’t tell others what they can and can’t do.

        What you’re speaking of affects far more people than many ban-the-narcotics activists are willing to admit! Sometimes, opioids really are the only option for any quality of life — particularly with neurogenic pain.

      Many healthcare plans will not pay for those options.

Christopher B | January 18, 2019 at 8:07 am

Thanks for pointing out this is largely a FENTANYL overdose problem. Attacking doctors and patients trying to control pain with other safer opiods is not going to fix the issue.

Oregon wants a mandatory series of government inspections to insure the health and welfare of babies.

Beware the benefits of government.

Suppose Insulin could produce cheap highs in addicts, would we be chasing endocrinologists and diabetics, telling them to “cut down” on a life saving medication? Would we give every diabetic dirty looks when they show up at Walgreens? Of course not!

The vast majority of fentanyl is illegally manufactured and/or illegally imported. Most of it comes from China, through Mexico, Canada and even sent through the mail. There are multiple journal articles that show very few people with cancer, car wrecks and other serious debilitating diseases become addicts from the opioids they’re prescribed. Additionally, there aren’t too many addicts who became addicts after they went to a doctor for serious pain.

We have a lot of drug addicts, the drug changes over time. Sure, they’ll get some of their drugs through doctors, but that’s not the real issue. This epidemic is pretty bad because Fentanyl is so powerful when abused.

It’s also odd that for Fentanyl and Opioids, it’s been “decided” by the government that suddenly these addicts are “victims of a disease” and need our support and understanding. Every cop and bus driver should be taught to inject anti-overdose drugs, we need more sympathy, bla bla. They’ve really strayed from “just say no” and serious, aggressive law enforcement as we have in the past.

Hectoring doctors and patients, billions for registries, tracking systems to pressure every doctor and humiliate every pain patient isn’t the way to go, IMHO. How about stopping the supply and enforcing the narcotics laws to appropriately deal with the users? Oh, this is 2019…..