The United States of America rang in the New Year with a fractured government, kicking off 2019 with unpaid federal employees, two parties divided and a raging debate over whether or not we should open our doors or barricade them shut. It seems that talk of the wall and President Donald Trump’s shutdown is inescapable as it dominates the news cycle, but no matter which party you belong to, what side of the wall you stand on, there is a piece of news that affects you and it might have slipped through the cracks of this jam-packed news cycle.
According to CNN, for the first time on record, the odds of accidentally dying from an opioid overdose in the U.S. are now greater than those of dying in an automobile accident. The numbers come from the National Safety Council which analyzed preventable injury and fatality statistics from 2017. The odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose in 2017 were one in 96, while the motor vehicle accident odds were one in 103.
For many of us, these numbers are shocking. Riding in a car is something that many of us do every single day, but for some of us, drug abuse sounds like something far off and distant, something that can’t touch us.
Drug abuse is a tragic addiction that affects big-name celebrities like Mac Miller and Demi Lovato, not something that happens to our neighbors and loved ones, right? The findings suggest otherwise. While driving around in a car is something that we do every day, something that we do out in the open for everyone to see, drug abuse is something that is happening whether we know about it from personal experience or not, and it’s not the only killer from behind closed doors.
The lifetime odds of suicide were even greater, at one in 88 deaths in 2017. So what can we learn from these statistics, these silent killers? As the news cycle continues to spin around Trump’s politics and bipartisan issues, there are cries for help that are being stifled and shoved behind the wall. Look a little harder. 130 Americans now die every day from opioid use. While there has been concern voiced from both political parties, a solid plan of attack has yet to be formed. While the officials we elected remain out of office during the shutdown, the American people suffer, in so many ways. Yet we continue to alienate the people who come here peacefully while our country’s own citizens face danger from addiction every single day.
Check on your loved ones and most importantly, start creating conversation. The opioid crisis is something that we allow to get shoved into corners with unpleasant things we would rather not talk about in civil conversation, but clearly, it’s time to start talking. If opioid addiction is as common as a car accident, it’s time that Americans from both parties push the agenda and work toward a solution. Mental illness and addiction aren’t always things that are easy to talk about, but they are things that both parties should be able to agree need to be addressed.