WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Poisoning is the most common form of death by injury in the United States, and 90 percent of all poisoning deaths are caused by drug overdoses -- via both prescription and illicit drugs.
In 2011, there were 36,280 unintentional poisoning deaths, while 33,783 people died in car accidents. For intentional drug overdoses the numbers are even more dramatic, with 41,340 deaths in 2011.
Nearly half of poisonings involved opioid-analgesic pain relievers, such as hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. In 2011, 16,917 people died from prescription pain med poisoning. And as a new CDC report shows, while the problem is getting worse, the death rate increase has slowed slightly since 2006.
Between 1999 and 2011, the rate of deaths caused by opioid-analgesic poisoning nearly quadrupled. And though the rate has increased every year for more than a decade, the rate of increase has decelerated in recent years.
Not all poisonings are overdoses involving too much of a single drug, but involve the fatal toxicity that comes from mixing too much of too many drugs. The new study, released Tuesday by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, found that anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, Valium and other benzodiazepines are increasingly involved in painkiller overdoses -- playing a role in 31 percent of all opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths in 2011.