Odds of dying from accidental opioid overdoses exceed death by car crash


    Teri Joy displays a sign she held at Clark County street corners several years ago to get people to pay attention to drug addiction. Her stepson is addicted to heroin. (Photo: Catherine Van/KATU News)

    For the first time in U.S. history, the odds of you dying from an accidental opioid drug overdose are greater than dying from a car crash, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the country.

    For years, Teri Joy says she was in denial about her stepson, Steven. She hasn't seen him in almost a year.

    "If you don't think you know someone who's on opioids or heroin, you do," she said. "(Steven's) got so much potential, but this drug has got him."

    His drug of choice is heroin, but Joy says he's also addicted to opioids. She says two of her young neighbors died from overdoses and worries her son could be next.

    "I don't think my husband could handle it, and I don't think I can handle my husband," she said.

    A few years ago, Teri took to various street corners in Clark County to try to get people to pay attention to drug addiction. She held up a sign that said, "Please stop giving my kids money for heroin," after she spotted her son panhandling to fuel his drug addiction.

    "I was tired of sitting on my behind, doing nothing, wishing for a lot but nothing was happening," said Joy.

    According to the National Safety Council, the numbers are getting worse.

    In 2017, 169,936 people died from preventable deaths. That's almost double the number from 25 years earlier at 86,777.

    The chances of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are 1 in 96.

    For car deaths, the chances are 1 in 103.

    "I'm not surprised at all. I'm sickened by it, but I'm not surprised," said Joy.

    Joy hopes her story and these statistics will open people's eyes to the widespread threat that no one likes to talk about.

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