More people die from drugs than vehicles in 36 states. In half the states, drugs are the leading cause of any injury-related death. So says a new report on injury prevention from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which grades states and offers recommendations on injury prevention policy based on the advice of an expert committee. The rankings were based on everything from seat belt laws to child abuse and neglect protections to drug monitoring policies, reports the Washington Post. The latest data show that drug overdose is not only the leading cause of injury-related death nationwide, but also in more than two thirds of states.
The overdose death rate varies dramatically by state: In West Virginia, the leader in overdose fatalities, the rate is more than 12 times greater than in bottom-ranked North Dakota. West Virginia was followed by Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, which are the five states with overdose fatality rates of more than 20 per 100,000 people. The advisory group issued recommendations aimed at curbing prescription abuse, making it easier to help those who overdose, and improving poison control centers. To rein in prescription drug abuse, it said all states should have prescription drug monitoring programs, including databases that track the prescription and distribution of such drugs. Only half the states have them. The authors argued for improved prevention, education and access to treatment.