More Virginians now die every year from an overdose than in automobile accidents, and nationally there is an overdose death every 20 minutes.
The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) investigates 6,000 deaths a year, and their annual report summarizes this information. For the first time on record, in 2014 fatal drug overdoses became the most common cause of accidental death in the Commonwealth.
Prescription opioid deaths are a significant cause of injury and death in Virginia, accounting for at least 55.5% of all drug/poison deaths in 2014; Oxycodone is the most common prescription opioid causing or contributing to a fatal overdose. The number of fatal heroin overdoses continued to increase, with a 12.2% rise in the number of deaths from 2013 to 2014.
The OCME also issues a quarterly report on fatal drug overdose trends.