What Drugs Cause The Most Deaths Each Year?


Drug is any substance that we take into our body as treatment. Although drugs help us kill bacteria and maintain our internal regulation, they can also kill us. Good and beneficial drugs can become deadly drugs if overdose. Drug overdose has claimed more lives even than Ebola virus. Drugs can be legal or illegal. Legal drugs are the drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use. Illegal drugs are the over the counter drugs that are not approved and are usually abused by members of the public. Whether a drug is legal or illegal, approved or over the counter does not have much to do with its lethality. Here, we are trying to consider drugs that are of highest fatality and mortality.


Tobacco is the main natural ingredient in cigarette. Cigarette smoking usually starts with experimental smoking to compulsive smoking. An experimental user is a beginner in cigarette who can later become a compulsive user with continuous usage. A compulsive user is a tobacco user that is already addicted to heavy smoking. A compulsive user believes the only way to cure smoking is to keep smoking.

According to a research study on tobacco use, cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year.  The estimated figures of deaths as a result of use and abuse of tobacco analyzed below.

  • More than 480, 000 deaths annually (Including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 278, 544 deaths annually among men (Including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 201, 773 deaths annually among women (Including deaths from secondhand smoke)

This unfortunate statistics has generated a lot of arguments among individuals as to why policy makers and federal government are not taking strict and necessary actions and sanction against the makers of tobacco. Government approach to this tobacco has never been satisfactorily encouraging. In spite of the magnitude and wealth generated by the tobacco industry and its ubiquitous advertising presence, fewer Americans are reportedly smoking. In 2013, an estimated 55.8 million Americans aged 12 or older which represents 21.3 percent of the total population were current cigarette smokers. This is saddening and disappointing.


Alcohol is a chemical also known as ethanol. Alcohol is a household name which most of us are grown up with. This is not unconnected with the fact that alcohol is legalized in most countries of the world. Alcohol has remained the most prevalent mood-altering substance in our culture. Regardless of how and where you were raised, you must have had little experience from alcohol. Alcohol is no doubt the leading substance of addiction in on our university campuses. This is because every party organized is baptized with it. It is quite alarming that not less than 87.6% of Americans aged 18 and above are consuming alcohol.

Alcohol-induced health problems, such as liver disease had reportedly led to more than 33, 000 deaths in 2015. But that undercounts the number of deaths caused by alcohol. The death toll may understate the more general risk of alcohol. A 2010 research published in The Lancet, took a comprehensive look at 20 of the world’s most popular drugs and the risks they pose. A conference of drug experts measured all the factors involved like mortality, other physical damage, and chance of developing dependence, impairment of mental function, effect on crime and so on. Each drug was assigned a score. They concluded that alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug to the society as a whole.


Heroin does not need any necessary introduction. It is of course, one of the most powerful and dangerous controlled substances available to illicit users. Heroin is also molecularly similar to Percocet and OxyContin, two of the most powerful addictive over-the-counter painkillers. It is a morphine derivative which is a direct descendant of the natural substance found in poppy plant. What attracts users to heroin is the immediate feeling of euphoria it gives. This is because heroin attacks the brain. Within seconds of injection, which is of course, the most common way of introducing heroin into the body system, the brain’s reward system is rejiggered to intensify the production of feel-good chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins.


Prescription drugs are also not spared of fatality and mortality. As a matter of fact, prescription can kill more people that combined cocaine and heroin. The two of the deadliest prescription painkillers in America have reached epic proportions when it comes to their adoption and use. It is an established fact that the United States consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone and over 80% of the world’s oxycodone.

As risky as it might be to use heroin, more deaths each year are caused by prescription opioids. Prescription pain killers can become people killers if they are not taken as prescribed. Morphine is an example of a prescription opioid but morphine tends to be prescribed to patients suffering from a terminal disease. Powerful drugs more commonly prescribed for pain include oxycodone (marketed as OxyContin and Percocet) and hydrocodone (marketed as Vicodin, among other trade names).

Some opioid overdoses result from people who take the drug illegally to get high. Illicit users of OxyContin often chew the drug to defeat its time release formula. That’s a dangerous practice that can end with a trip to the emergency room or, in some cases, to the morgue. Other opioid overdoses are accidental. They tend to occur when patients do not feel they are getting sufficient pain relief and take extra doses to compensate. Opioids are also a popular choice for people who want to commit suicide.

  • Cocaine is a prescription drug that dentists and surgeons use as an anesthetic before performing certain procedures related to the mouth or throat. Cocaine is also commonly used as a recreational drug. Like heroin, the purity of cocaine is difficult for a user to judge because street dealers cut it with other substances to increase the quantity that they can sell.Cocaine overdoses can be fatal when they lead to heart attacks, seizures or respiratory failure.
  • Methamphetamine is another prescription drug that is widely abused by illicit users. They typically ingest methamphetamine that has been “home brewed??? in someone’s garage. Those who are most at risk for an overdose include new users who have not developed a tolerance for the drug and those who, after withdrawing, use the same amount that they consumed before they stopped taking the drug. Stroke is the most commoncause of death, although brain damage leading to severe dementia might be even worse than death.




  1. https://www.blvdcenters.org/blog/top-5-deadliest-drugs-america
  2. https://drugcrime-law.com/what-kills-the-most/
  3. http://www.vox.com/2014/5/19/5727712/drug-alcohol-deaths




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