The chance of dying from an opioid overdose is now higher than the chance of dying in a car accident, according to the National Safety Council.
In North Dakota, there was a 25% increase in opioid deaths from 2014 to 2017.
While national, state-wide, and local efforts are in the works to end the opioid epidemic, overdoses still happen every day.
In fact, more than 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every single day.
“Were you shocked to hear that numbers show that more people are likely to die from an overdose than a car accident?”
“Not shocked,” Wayne Fahy said. “We see it, we see overdoses here in North Dakota, in the Minot area, we see overdoses constantly.”
As a paramedic and an educator, Fahy witnesses and teaches the impact of opioids.
“We see a lot more opioid overdoses than we did 20 years ago, even 10 years ago,” he said.
There were 28,000 opioid-overdose deaths nationwide in 2014.
In 2017, there were more than 48,000.
Fahy said overdoses are not limited to illicit drug use. Often times, Community Ambulance responds to overdoses of patients who are prescribed painkillers.
However, the CDC reports that the leading causes of overdose deaths in middle-aged women from 1999 to 2017 were heroin and fentanyl.
“That’s the main killer of opioids [fentanyl], is that it puts that person into a state of unconsciousness and it depresses their respiratory drive and so they stop breathing,” said Fahy. “And if somebody’s not there to help them, they’re going to die.”
A few years ago, first responders started carrying Narcan to reverse overdoses. However, the drug is not perfect. It can only reverse overdoses caused by opioids.
But, Fahy said that it is saving lives.
The Minot Police Department used Narcan 7 times in 2018.
The Ward County Sheriff’s Department used it 3 times.
You can learn more about Narcan (also known as naloxone) at a community training event offered at First District Health Unit at 801 11th Ave SW in Minot.
That’s happening twice on Wednesday, January 23 from 12-1pm and 5:30-6:30pm
The training is free and is open to anyone.