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A man suffered an opioid overdose while behind the wheel of his car in Michigan Sunday, before drifting off the road and crashing into a tree.
Officers with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports that a Chrysler PT Cruiser was dangerously swerving down a highway. When police arrived, they found the PT Cruiser at the bottom of a ditch smashed into a tree with two passengers inside, both unconscious with shallow breathing, reports The Detroit News.
The officers administered the overdose reversal drug Narcan to the unidentified man and woman, who slowly regained consciousness. Authorities later found both the man and woman had warrants out for their arrests for previous charges related to alcohol and drugs.
A recent study found that the opioid scourge is making roadways across the U.S. more dangerous, accounting for a 700 percent increase in traffic deaths. Researchers from Columbia University in New York City investigated more than two decades of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The study aimed to see if traffic accidents and fatalities climbed in association with prescription painkillers.
The researchers analyzed nearly 37,000 drivers killed in crashes and found that 24 percent had drugs in their system, 3 percent of which were prescription painkillers.
“The significant increase in proportion of drivers who test positive for prescription pain medications is an urgent public health concern,” Stanford Chihuri, lead researcher of the study, told CBS News. “Prescription pain medications use and abuse may play a role in motor vehicle crashes. Additional research is urgently needed to assess its role.”
Authorities in states across the country say they are witnessing more accidents linked to drivers using painkillers and heroin due to the worsening epidemic.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, released Sept. 7, predicts that the addiction epidemic in America will continue, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.
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