MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Are You More Likely to Be Killed by Opioids Than a Car Crash?

Only if you are using heroin, fentanyl, or dangerous drug mixtures

NSCNSCA report from the National Safety Council (NSC) has prompted a bunch of news stories highlighting the finding that an American's lifetime risk of dying from an accidental opioid overdose is now greater than his lifetime risk of dying in a car crash. "Odds of Dying From Accidental Opioid Overdose in the U.S. Surpass Those of Dying in Car Accident," says the CNN headline, while The New York Times reports that "the opioid crisis in the United States has become so grim that Americans are now likelier to die of an overdose than in a vehicle crash." The NSC itself claims "your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than [your odds of] dying in a motor vehicle crash."

All of this is highly misleading for a couple of reasons. First, the danger of dying from opioids, unlike the danger of dying in a car crash, can be readily avoided by most people. Second, the NSC's calculation lumps together different kinds of drug use that pose very different levels of risk, ranging from substantial to negligible.

As Josh Bloom notes at the American Council on Science and Health's blog, journalists "feel the need to compare opioid overdose deaths to those from automobile accidents, as if the two have anything to do with each other." Bloom wonders what sort of conclusion we are supposed to draw from this ranking: that arranging more fatal car crashes would alleviate the "opioid crisis"? He also notes that treating "opioid overdoses" as a single cause of death conflates heroin and illicit fentanyl, which are involved in the vast majority of such cases, with prescription pain medication, which accounts for a small share that looks even smaller once you take drug mixtures into account.

The records compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that heroin or illicit fentanyl was involved in 75 percent of the 47,600 opioid-related deaths that the CDC counted in 2017. Just 30 percent of opioid-related deaths involved prescription analgesics such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, and about two-fifths of those cases also involved heroin or fentanyl.

Adding more substances to the analysis shows that most records listing a prescription pain reliever also list other drugs: For example, 68 percent of deaths involving prescription opioids in 2017 also involved heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or alcohol. In other words, less than 10 percent of opioid-related deaths involved pain medication by itself, and the actual percentage may be considerably lower, since coroners and medical examiners do not always note additional drugs. In New York City, which has one of the country's most thorough systems for reporting drug-related deaths, 97 percent of them involve mixtures.

Keep these facts in mind when you read that your lifetime risk of dying from an opioid overdose is one in 96, according to the latest NSC calculation, compared to a one-in-103 risk of dying in a car crash. That does not really mean you are more likely to die from an opiod overdose, of course, since you can make sure that will not happen by never taking an opioid. But even if you are brave enough to use pain medication that a doctor prescribes for you, the chance that it will kill you is very small: on the order 0.022 percent a year, according to a 2015 study of opioid-related deaths in North Carolina.

To approximate the risk calculated by the NSC, you'd have to continue taking the same drug every year for half a century or so. But even that is misleading, because these deaths are not random. They are especially likely to occur in people who take larger doses than instructed and who mix opioids with other drugs. If you don't do either of those things, your risk will be even lower.

The illicit opioids are much more dangerous because their potency is highly variable and unpredictable. Furthermore, they are becoming even more dangerous, largely thanks to the proliferation of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as heroin adulterants and substitutes, which is encouraged by the economics of prohibition. In 2017 that category of opioids was involved in 60 percent of opioid-related deaths, up from 14 percent in 2010.

A rough calculation (one that does not take into account the underrepresentation of heroin users in the government's surveys) indicates there were 17.5 drug-related deaths per 1,000 heroin users in 2017, compared to 1.3 drug-related deaths per 1,000 "misusers" of prescription opioids. That's a big difference, even if the official count of heroin users is off by a factor of two or three, and it's not hard to see how cracking down on pain pills could increase opioid-related deaths by pushing users toward black-market alternatives. Judging from the North Carolina study, the corresponding rate for people who take opioids prescribed for them is something like 0.0022 per 1,000. The NSC's one-in-96 lifetime risk is an average that conflates different situations involving dramatically different odds.

By contrast, while your chance of dying in a car crash depends on factors such as miles traveled, traffic conditions, and seat belt use, anyone who drives or rides is exposed to some risk, and the average gives you an idea of how big the danger is. It is perfectly rational to worry more about dying in a car crash than about dying from opioids, especially if you use them only as directed to treat pain. When the NSC warns us about "the danger inside of a bottle of pills" in the context of a calculation based mainly on illicit opioids, it is engaged in fearmongering rather than public education.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Shocking news! The NSC has discovered that we are all going to die!

    The key question is not so much how, but when. If you prefer to live to a ripe old age, then maybe you might be interested in know the age distributions of these various mechanisms of death.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    And how is this bad news? Who, given the choice, would rather die in a car accident than in the warm embrace of an opoid?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    You sound like a man who knows his opioids.

    Post-op from a nasty injury, I had morphine directly injected into my I.V., while watching Teletubbies. Good times.

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    Lets not forget 88,000 die from alcohol and hundreds of thousands die from tobacco, both legal drugs.
    Lets not forget the millions of pain patients who have a ligitimate need for pain medications.

    Lets use commone sense rather than knee jerk reactions to every new drug that comes along...

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Actually, I would, just on principle, challenge both of those numbers. They are promulgated by organizations that are dedicated to Crusades aimed at eradicating the use of the drugs in question, and if you bother to check are notoriously prone to make number up.

  • ||

    Actually, I would, just on principle, challenge both of those numbers.

    Christopher Snowdon does such challenging.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Lets not forget the millions of pain patients who have a ligitimate need for pain medications.

    If it saves just one life, we should let millions of people suffer, turn to illegal/dangerous sources for relief, and die.

  • Conchfritters||

    A report from the National Safety Council (NSC)..

    Clown show. They should do a report on how bullshit panic inducing crap statistics like this makes millions of dumbass weak minded people feel unsafe, who then cope with it by slamming more pills. I want to know how a report from the NSC gets released when the fucking government is shut down?

  • TJJ2000||

    lol..... NSC = "Clown Show" -- Great comment! A++. I don't know why most government sponsored agencies are Clown Shows but couldn't agree more with your comment about it.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    ""Odds of Dying From Accidental Opioid Overdose in the U.S. Surpass Those of Dying in Car Accident," says the CNN headline, while The New York Times reports that "the opioid crisis in the United States has become so grim that Americans are now likelier to die of an overdose than in a vehicle crash."

    CNN and the Tomes do not surprise me, their connection to reality has been tenuous for some time. The NSC is a bunch of Government stooges, so no surprise there either.

  • Overt||

    This entire article is bullshit, in that it spends its time trying to minimize these opioid numbers, when in fact they are fucking unacceptable. "If you just avoid opioids, you won't be killed by them." When did this become a GOP Rule of Law blog? Yeah, guess what- if you just avoid walking near cars and driving, you are unlikely to be killed in a car accident too!

    Libertarians should be popularizing these numbers far and wide. "Government finally succeeds in making Opioid deaths more common than car deaths."

    15 years ago, people could work with their doctor to manage their pain through responsible use of opioids. But the government decided to persecute doctors for "feeding addiction". While I am certain some of that was good hearted, it was far more driven by nanny state puritanism and a desire to control costs as the government absorbed more and more of our health care industry.

    Opioids are dangerous, just like cars. But like cars they are also very useful for millions of people. Rather than ensure that Americans have access to doctors who can help advise and manage their use, the government has shamed drug users, and chased them into a black market. They have cut off the supply of moderate alternatives, and driven users to fentynol and other dangerous drugs. And articles like this one just perpetuate the stereotype that people who use opioids are some sort of deplorable class whose only acceptable recourse is abstaining. Ugh.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Hear, Hear! And ANOTHER aspect of the pain management catch-22 is that the government justifies making it harder for chronic pain sufferers to get opioids by asserting that there are alternatives to manage pain...such as biofeedback.

    And then Medicare won't pay for biofeedback treatment of chronic pain.

    Now, I'm not saying that the State should pay for all medical treatment. But if it pays for a lot, and expresses a preference for one sort, it should pay for that sort, neh?

    Or it could get the &^*()# out of the business of dictating healthcare and healthcare-insurance choices.

    Or it could get the &^*()# out of the business of telling medical professionals how to do their jobs.

    Or pigs might fly.

  • JFree||

    I'm not saying that the State should pay for all medical treatment. But if it pays for a lot, and expresses a preference for one sort, it should pay for that sort, neh?

    What then is 'medical treatment'? The minute 'pain' was turned into a vital sign - comparable to blood pressure or temperature which unlike pain can be objectively measured - medicine stopped being practiced. Pain may be the reason people go to the doctor - but the doctor is trained to try to diagnose the underlying objective cause of that pain - not the patient's subjective self-described feelings about the symptoms. Treating the latter is little more than turning the patient into a doctor and turning the doctor into a pharmacist focused entirely on patient-determined 'customer satisfaction' - which is a real problem if someone else is going to be paying the bill for all that.

    What I find odd is that 'libertarians' are somehow demanding that this sort of system remain in place - when it originated with the most socialized part of our medical system (the VA) - at the behest of specialists/pharma who were the beneficiaries of govt patent games on really old drugs that were generic everywhere else in the world. VA almost certainly was not taking pain seriously in the 90's but that was more a function of a constipated military culture (tough it out soldier) and a profound lack of generalist doctors/diagnosticians in the American medical system.

  • Overt||

    I cannot really agree here. All medicine involves a spectrum of treatment that goes from barely coping to full cure. 50 years ago, doctors couldn't cure your heart disease, merely treat it with nitro pills. It is still an option today, and we would probably have more market pressure to reduce the costs of angioplasty and bypasses if more people used the cheaper alternative.

    No, the problem is that government preferences for health insurance incentivize all consumers to choose the most expensive, most effective treatment.

    There are still many causes of chronic pain that cannot be diagnosed or- even if diagnosed- cannot be cured. Opioids are one of many effective treatments when we cannot find a cure. Rather than demonize drug users, and doctors, we should be focused on letting those people do what they want and not giving a shit unless their problem causes real world harm. It is only the intersection of leviathan government that makes everyone think they can centrally plan their way out of this mess by meddling in the lives of doctors and patients that they otherwise give zero fucks about.

  • JFree||

    Well the surge in opioid prescriptions wasn't caused by some unknown epidemic of mysterious pain. And it is everyone else's business cuz that's exactly who's been paying for it for a couple decades. Here's the VA 'pain toolkit' circa 2000 that put the protocols into practice there. They were a very early adopter (most likely cuz of the nature of their patient base) but the protocols then are straight out of the pain specialists recommendations.

    Pain itself began being treated as a disease - not a symptom of something else. The subjectivity of the measures meant it was both ripe for abuse - and for those who are suggestible or not very good communicators to get hooked without anyone really realizing.

    Except for one questionnaire there isn't even an attempt to diagnose something else or gather the information that might help a diagnostician figure out what's going on. Just prescribe pills for pain so that patients can become as numb as they feel comfortable becoming. After all the customer is always right. It's a very American approach to medicine.

    And this really isn't just govt screwing things up. Or govt being the prohibitionist. Or any of the other memes that fit an easy political screech.

  • Echospinner||

    At the same time hospitals began using patient satisfaction surveys as a club to punish doctors. Patient wants a prescription give it to them.

    Administrators love metrics because numbers do not lie, right?

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    Before pain was treated as a vital sign pain was undertreated and patients were taking their life for lack of pain management. Physicians would prescribe a pain patient 30 pain pills for the month. Leaving the patient to decide what 4 hours they wanted to releive their pain.

    Most chronic pain patients have pain 24/7. One pill every 4 hours is 6 pills a day so physicians need to prescribe 180 a month, not 30 pills.....

    Under prescribing only forces ligitamate patients to the street where they get pills with unknown ingredents.... This is why we are seeing so many overdoses.

    PROHIBITION doesn't work... Look at history...

  • JFree||

    Pain is not really being treated as a vital sign. It is called a vital sign but it is being treated as a DISEASE. Chronic pain = chronic disease = perpetual prescription = big profits for specialist/pharma.

    The prescription regime that you recommend is what got us into this mess. Overprescribe a ton (just-in-case 'medicine') so that a)some patients can abuse the system by selling/distributing and b)others can avoid returning to the doctor so there is no chance anything objective/underlying about the pain can be diagnosed.

    And suicide rates show the opposite pattern - dropping from the early70's to the late 90's (the period when actual prohibition about medical opioids was in place) - rising more slowly since 2000 when opioids began being prescribed. The post-2000 increases are entirely in two demographics - non-Hispanic whites and native Americans. There is ZERO reason to believe that there is some actual physiological cause of that suicide that only affects two demographics. Is there a psychological (or even economic) thing happening post-2000? I could easily see that - but that is not how we are viewing opioid prescriptions or pain.

    Don't misunderstand. Pain isn't taken as seriously as it should be. But that is because PATIENTS aren't taken seriously in our system. Specialists treat diseases and body parts - not patients. And we are near-allergic since the Flexner report in 1912 to having doctors who view patients as patients rather than lab animals.

  • Sedona Vortex Hunter||

    what if instead of being a professional patient and going to the doctor constantly to try and 'figure out whats wrong' a person just wants to deal with their pain by taking pain medicine and getting on with their life?

    Instead we have people like you who want to make a bunch of ever increasing rules about what is 'best' for people all in the name of 'caring', yet when it really comes down to it you don't actually give a shit about anybodies pain level, if you are truthful you will admit find it annoying or think they are lying to try and 'sell pills' or feed their 'addiction'.

    Not ever pain can be diagnosed by engaging into an endless series of doctors visits and tests. Why should it be up to you what another person ingests into their body? Why should somebody have to make up a reason you find acceptable to relieve their pain?

    Its fucking irritating as fuck. 'Overperscribing', blah blah, you clearly believe you have the ability to tell how much of something another person should take and worse the right to control and dictate their ability to do so

  • JFree||

    Why should it be up to you what another person ingests into their body?

    Because you want me to pay for it one way or the other. Do you seriously think I have a problem with people who 'have pain' heading over to - say - a fentanyl.com website with photos of nurses/doctors and verbiage about how their product relieves pain really well with no side-effects? Or get some 'fake' pills from whoever because those fake pills are what's actually profitable to make? Of course not. YOU are the one who has a problem with that. YOU are the one who wants to make it 'medical' and regulate products so it is 'safe'. YOU are the one who wants to redefine 'medical' so it means - give me whatever the fuck I want and stop asking questions. And if that has consequences (like ER visits or using 'pain' as a reason to go on disability or whatever), well guess who is supposed to pay for that too.

    I hear all sorts of stuff that we are in some 'prohibition' era now because doctors are pulling back. That 'prohibition' meme is nonsense. Opioid prescriptions are still 300% higher than they were in 1999. Prescriptions/capita are 4x higher than Portugal which has completely medicalized addictions that started on the street. The US is as 'prohibitionary' re opioids as a whorehouse is re sex. Yeah - maybe they don't have underage donkeys available but it sure as fuck isn't a nunnery.

  • ThomasD||

    He who pays the fiddler calls the tune. To expect otherwise is simply unrealistic.

    Which is just another argument against Medicare.

  • TxJack 112||

    What we need to do it outlaw the practice of paying docotrs to prescribe certain medications. This is why the crisis got out of control. The family who controls the industry has paid doctors millions in kickbacks to prescribed their drugs knowing in turn they would make billions which they have.

  • Overt||

    How was it out of control? Millions of people were using opioids, yes. But they weren't dying from it.

    If the real concern is the government paying for people's addictions, then set up rules to stop paying for medication when "abuse" is determined. Instead, the government just cuts off the supply.

    I have seen plenty of people who probably drink too much alcohol, smoke too much pot, or take too many opioids. It holds them back in life, but they are nevertheless capable and functioning adults in society. They are not out of control. What gets us out of control is chasing them into the shadows.

  • JFree||

    How was it out of control?

    Well according to this study - The counties that had the most opioid product marketing from pharmaceutical companies were the counties that subsequently one year later had more opioid prescribing and had more opioid overdose deaths, And the amounts spent on marketing did not need to be big at all - taking the doctor out to lunch 3x and talking about 'how pain is undertreated' and 'our product doesn't create addiction problems' resulted in an 18% increase in prescriptions

  • marshaul||

    We could just eliminate drug prescriptions entirely. Not in the mood to launch into a lengthy explanation, but psychology, history, and experience all suggest that this would significantly decrease the number of opioid fatalities in the long run (though there might be an initial increase while the system finds new equilibrium).

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Good comment, Overt!

  • ThomasD||

    "15 years ago, people could work with their doctor to manage their pain through responsible use of opioids. But the government decided to persecute doctors for "feeding addiction"."

    It's a little more complicated than that. Although the numbers are not precise it is well accepted that opiod usage has increased tremendously in the last few decades - the DEA has has good numbers on bulk manufacturing to substantiate this. The sea change started in the early 90's with the development and marketing of long acting products (MS Contin) and it only grew from there as more producers and more products got into the chronic therapy market.

    (cont.)

  • ThomasD||

    While we have very good data on auto deaths per miles driven - and in the similar time frame this value has been reliably trending down - what we don't have is any sort of similar metric for opioid consumption.

    Not even for licit use (iilicit use, by it's nature being almost impossible to accurately document.) The CDCs recent focus on 'MME' (morphine milligram equivalents) is partially intended to start capturing this kind of information, but even then it is nowhere near as straightforward a metric as miles driven.

    My own suspicion is that, if we did have the data, we would see over the last couple decades no significant change in death rates, just higher numbers due to higher total use, with maybe a slight decline in death rate within the last five or so years as prescribers have been made more aware of risk factors and have altered their practice (sometimes at the cost of less effective pain management.)

  • Brynjo||

    I agree Overt.

    Purpose of statistic is to rank relevance. To extent auto deaths are (supposedly) unavoidable, and Opiod deaths are avoidable (through better policies, and better choices) all the more reason to publicize them.

    Rapid increase in past 5 years also warrants media, public and policymaker attention. (As a libertarian, I'd suggest policy maker attention means identifying bad policies that fertilize the crisis, eliminating them, and allowing free markets to better empower people to make good choices.)

    The alternative is to have media, policymakers, and public focus on the sensationsl, sexy, single tragedy that statistically has no relevance beyond the anecdote.

  • TxJack 112||

    So this means that guns are now the 3rd biggest danger? Rats, sure the gun grabbers will hate that fact.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Rats are not yet a big threat. Give them a few more centuries of natural selection.

  • TJJ2000||

    Actually I think guns are clear down in the 100ths in the cause of deaths. But, they tend to cherry-pick their information into "avoidable" deaths or some glitch that can post a huge political driver.

    What really funny about the "gun grabbers" is that its somewhere in the 90% that gun related deaths are suicide. Making the chances of being a victim of a gun homicide around 0.0000000001% of deaths.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    How do they distinguish between an accidental death and a suicide? I would think it would be really hard to accidentally kill yourself with Vicodin.

  • ThomasD||

    You'd be really wrong. Especially if you also have a benzodiazepine (e.g. Xanax, Valium, etc.) on board.

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    You are correct and many pain patients who commit suicide save pills and overdose to end the pain. Many pain patient suicides are diffacult to identify. In the 90's while investigating the problem I found several suspicious vehicle accidents and one suicide by cop in Spokane.

    I think far more pain patient deaths are suicide and unreconized by officials...

    E. Jay Fleming
    Speaker Law Enforcement Action Partnership
    Dolan Springs Arizona
    https://lawenforcementactionpartnership.org
    https://paincrisisinamerica.blogspot.com

    "Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself" Albert Schweitzer

  • Kazinski||

    Most deaths from Vicodin are likely from liver failure from the Tylenol.

  • Heraclitus||

    This article seems like own little bit of fake outrage. I'm sure some Amish guy is crossing his arms and huffing, "you can only die in a car crash if you ride in a car! harumph harumph.

    We are not stupid. When we read the articles comparing opioid to car crash deaths we understand that it applies to populations as a whole. While I am not worried about myself I am worried about my kids. This is not a keep up at night worry but certainly, parents do worry when their kids go out in a car even though we know, intellectually, that the odds are that they will make it back. Fortunately, advances in car safety, highway safety, and public education and regulation has decreased automobile deaths. Let's not let opioid deaths get out of control.

  • ThomasD||

    About the only way we are going to reduce opioid deaths, while respecting individual liberty is through education and awareness. So rather than criticizing this information, let's present it as worthy of consideration.

    Letting people know that opioids now kill more people annually than automobiles is one way to do so. Considering how much and how often people drive, especially when viewed against the substantially smaller number of people who take opiods (for any reason) this should be a shocking reminder to everyone just how dangerous these drugs can be.

    Yes the vast majority (but certainly not ALL) of those opioid deaths are not what would be considered medically appropriate use. And yes that should be stressed repeatedly. Playing around with recreational opiod use is really, really dangerous. But do not lose sight of the fact that legitimate medicinal users also die unnecessarily.

    What we don't need is more government imposed solutions to the 'problem.'

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Regulation may have reduced automobile deaths, but they have increased opioid deaths.

    Yes, I'm suggesting we stop regulating opioids.

  • ThomasD||

    "Regulation may have reduced automobile deaths, but they have increased opioid deaths."

    I do not think this can be remotely substantiated. Opiod deaths do reliably correspond to opioid usage rates, and that's about all we know for sure.

    Regardless, even if more regulation reduced deaths I'd still oppose it on principle alone.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Agree on opposing in principle.

    However, the evidence shows that street drugs are the main culprit in fatalities. If pharma opioids are more readily available, fewer people will turn to heroin/fentanyl.

    From the article: "In 2017 that category of opioids was involved in 60 percent of opioid-related deaths, up from 14 percent in 2010." That seems to follow the path of more restrictive narcotics policies.

  • ThomasD||

    "If pharma opioids are more readily available, fewer people will turn to heroin/fentanyl."

    The only people who are 'turning' to heroin/fentanyl are illicit (ie. non legitimate medicinal) users. While I have no problem with the idea of these people having access to commercially standardized products there is no evidence that this would change their rates of death.

    You are correct that the vast majority of deaths are street drug users, but there are still many unnecessary deaths from non-street drugs and non-illicit use. As I noted above, these are really dangerous substances - even the 'good stuff' but especially so the street stuff.

    That this population of largely recreational users/addicts are already displaying a willingness to behave even more recklessly by ingesting substances of - at a minimum - questionable provenance and potency tells us that they are extremely self destructive. To think that a 'clean' supply will prevent them from overdosing is a nice thought, but it is solely a matter of faith.

  • John Cuyle||

    "We" might not be. A lot of people are, though. As others have noted, these sorts of bogus statistics are used by pro gun control folks a lot. My favorite was a recent article by a doctor stating that you are 22 times more likely to die by committing suicide with a gun than use it in self defense. You have a 100% chance of dying from suicide if you commit suicide and 0% chance of dying due to suicide if you don't commit suicide, and you get to pick which group you're in. Statistics which treat these two separate populations as a single population simply don't provide useful information, partly because they present an artificially inflated risk to people who are at no or low risk and partly because they present an artificially low risk to people who are at high risk. It's a public disservice to present the headlines that were presented largely because some people seem to actually take them at face value.

  • ||

    "Are you more likely to be killed by opiods than a car crash?" Only if you don't drive.

  • Truthteller1||

    Of course it is a lie. A big one. But the media will embrace it, the sheep will believe it and thus it will be true. Only an idiot would believe this claim.

  • drisco304||

    An overdose should be defined as an over-dose. More than the recommended dosage. So what is the recommended dosage of a mixture of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, etc.? There is none. So since there is no dose there is no overdose. The news media should report these as "some guy injected himself with some substance of a composition unknown to him but that included xxxx and he died". But that takes too long so they say "overdose" when it isn't.

  • ThomasD||

    Most every BASE jumper intends to return to contact with Earth. Ideally in a controlled manner at low velocity.

    Most every drug user is likewise seeking to achieve a desired effect (be it pain relief or a euphoric escape) that does not involve death. When the amount consumed instead causes death it is safe to call it an overdose.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Episode 3232987597435 of "Correlation is not Causation"

    Many of the idiocies of our politics comes from implicit use of the propensity theory of probability.

  • TJJ2000||

    Thanks for that enlightening comment. Didn't realize there was a phrase to describe it.

    Correlation does not imply causation = "after this" ... "therefore because of this" is a logical fallacy.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Duh! I have zero chance of being killed by opioids, as I don't use them and never will. I have had surgery, been given them, and not used them. Now I do have a chance of getting killed by some random idiot on their cell phone in a car accident, so that is definitely higher.

  • ThomasD||

    When you were experiencing pain post surgery did you not take them because you enjoyed the pain, were indifferent to the pain, or because you didn't think they were worth the bother/expense/risk?

    Surely you have a reason to assert that you will "never" use them.

    Not to imply that I'm criticizing you, but to note that a critical approach to medication use is perhaps the best way to avoid their potential for harm.

  • LEAPGuyAZ||

    Why punish ligitimate pain patients when far more people die from alcohol 88,000 deaths and tobacco 480,000 or 1 in 5 deaths according to the CDC...

    Why are doses for pain patients limited to 120 MME of pain medications while no limit on the dose addicts get.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online