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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