While motor vehicle traffic accidents continue to be the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States (comprising 42,031 or 34% of all such deaths in 2007), drug overdose deaths have been rapidly increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 27,658 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2007, more than double the 11,155 deaths in 1999. Drug overdose deaths now account for 24% of all unintentional deaths and surpass falls as the second leading cause of unintentional deaths. Unintentional drug overdoses include those resulting from illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter drug misuse, abuse, taking too much for medical reasons, and accidental ingestion (such as by a toddler). The most common drug categories involved in drug overdose deaths are prescription opioids, cocaine and heroin.
Source: Adapted by CESAR from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the United States, 2010 (available online at http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/pdf/poison-issue-brief.pdf); and CDC, NCIPC, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), accessed 5/17/2011 (available online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/WISQARS).
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