Drug Overdoses Have Killed More Americans Than Car Accidents Or Firearms, Statistics Say

Drug overdoses are among the leading causes of injury death in the United States. In fact, drug overdoses have claimed the lives of so many Americans, they even outnumber injury fatalities as a result of gunfire and car accidents.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) was released. The results of the assessment, which are based on the number of injury deaths that took place in 2013, revealed that a total of 46,471 lives were lost as a result of drug overdoses. That year, 35,369 people died in car accidents, and fatal gunshot wounds contributed to 33,636 deaths.

According to CNS News, more than half of the drug overdoses reported stemmed from misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. Opioid analgesic abuse and the increase in heroin availability are among the top concerns for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

374544 02: A small bag of the drug Ecstasy is displayed July 26, 2000 at the U.S. Customs House in Los Angeles as part of 2.1 million tablets of the drug seized by customs agents earlier in the day. The drugs have an estimated street value of $40 million. The seizure of the drugs at Los Angeles International Airport marked the high point of a 10-month investigation by the Southwest Border Initiative a multi-agency task force. Officials said it was the biggest Ecstasy haul in history. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs/Newsmakers)

Although the report suggests there has been a slight decline in the circulation of cocaine, the rise of heroin and its availability has contributed to the spike in overdoses. Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator for the DEA, briefly explained the report detailing the overall problem with prescription drugs and heroin.

“Sadly, this report confirms what we’ve known for some time…. Drug abuse is ending too many lives too soon and destroying families and communities,” Rosenberg said. “Overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels.”

Rosenberg also cited that the “report confirms what we’ve known for some time: drug abuse is ending too many lives too soon and destroying families and communities. We must reach young people at an even earlier age and teach them about its many dangers and horrors.”

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According to DEA.gov, the 2015 NDTA also revealed how influential Mexican transnational criminal organizations are in the drug trafficking business in the United States. It has been reported that the Mexican organizations are the most prominent drug threats to America as they are primary suppliers for marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and even methamphetamine.

Here is a brief excerpt of the NDTA’s findings:

  • “Heroin availability is up across the country, as are abusers, overdoses, and overdose deaths. A just-released survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed a 51% increase between 2013 and 2014 in the number of current heroin users.”
  • “Since 2002, prescription drug deaths have outpaced those of cocaine and heroin combined. Abuse of controlled prescription drugs is higher than that of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, and PCP combined.”

The staggering statistics have led many Americans to question the type of charges normally brought against drug dealers. In most cases, drug traffickers face charges for numerous counts of possession with intent to sell, but many social media users are now questioning why they don’t face murder charges due to the potentially catastrophic effects of drugs they expose people to. While drug use is voluntary, drug traffickers are vast contributors to the availability of deadly drugs.

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Regardless of who should be held accountable for the drugs available on the streets of America, Rosenberg insists the best way to diminish the possibility of drug abuse is to inform children and teens at an early age. Youth should be well aware of the dangers of drug abuse. Do you think convicted drug dealers should face murder charges? Share your thoughts.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]