In 1979 the U.S. Government began tracking drug-related deaths and for the first time those deaths have surpassed the number of traffic fatalities on an annual basis.
The most recent statistics which were taken in 2009 shows that 37,485 people died in traffic related accidents while 36,284 people died from drug related activities in a one year period.
Surprisingly the main culprit of those deaths were not street illegal drugs but rather prescription options including Xanax, OxyContin and the main culprit Vicodin which killed more people than cocaine and heroin combined.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times a Santa Barbara sheriff said:
“The problem is right here under our noses in our medicine cabinets.”
The study also revealed that traffic related fatalities have actually fallen by a third since the 1970s even as the number of drivers using American roadways continues to increase, while drug related deaths have doubled in the last decade. Deaths among the 50-year-old to 69-year-old crowd have been even worse, tripling during the same time period.
Not all deaths have been related to drug overdoses from drug abuse, in many cases accidental double dosing by adults has been the culprit.
When asked how drug related deaths can be reduced one researcher said:
“What’s really scary is we don’t know a lot about how to reduce prescription deaths,” while adding, “It’s a wonderful medical advancement that we can treat pain, but we haven’t figured out the safety belt yet.”
In the meantime parents are urged to speak with their kids not just about street illegal drugs but also the medications found in medicine cabinets which can be just as addictive and just as deadly.