The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been keeping an eye on the drug overdose statistics, drug addiction statistics, and drug deaths per year in the United States and its outlying territories. In 2015, there were 52,898 deaths from drug overdoses, and 64,070 deaths occurred in 2016. These account for the total number of deaths from drug overdoses, but many different drugs are to blame.
What Drugs Cause Overdose?
Some drugs are more dangerous than others. Here are some of the most common drugs that cause death from an overdose:
1. Heroin Overdose Deaths
Heroin is the most lethal drug in the United States. It was the fifth most fatal drug in 2010 with 3,020 deaths. That number went up to 10,863 in just four years. Since 2014, it has been steadily growing each year with 13,219 deaths in 2015 and 15,446 in 2016. A person suffering from a heroin overdose will experience a systemwide shutdown, causing lethal respiratory depression. It will slow and then stop the heart. The risk is highest for first-time users and those relapsing, due to their low tolerance.
2. Cocaine Overdose Deaths
Cocaine has the second highest deaths, with 10,619 in 2016. In 2010, cocaine was the third most lethal drug by causing 4,312 deaths, but has gone up since. In 2014 there were 5,856 deaths, and in 2015, 6,986 deaths. Someone who is experiencing a cocaine overdose has a heart that is overworking, dangerously increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Cocaine users take repeated doses over a short amount of time to maintain their high, which contributes to overdosing.
3. Oxycodone Overdose Deaths
Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug, which causes people to increase intake as they chase the effect. It is an opioid prescribed for pain, but people often abuse it for the heroin-like high it produces. When an overdose occurs, the person will have lethargic behavior, strange breathing patterns, and a lowered heart rate. In 2014, there were 5,417 deaths from oxycodone, which went up slightly from four years earlier. In 2010, oxycodone was the most lethal drug, with 5,256 deaths. In 2015, there were about 33,000 deaths from opioids, specifically oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone.
4. Alprazolam Overdose Deaths
Alprazolam is known by the brand Xanax; drinking alcohol with Xanax can cause overdoses. Physicians prescribe alprazolam to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Drowsiness and coma are overdose symptoms, caused by nervous system depression. Alprazolam is the fourth most lethal drug with 4,217 deaths in 2014; it has maintained that standing since 2010 when there were 3,677 deaths.
5. Fentanyl Overdose Deaths
Fentanyl was the eighth most lethal drug in 2010 with 1,645 deaths. In four years, however, that number jumped up to fifth place, with 4,200 deaths. Fentanyl is more potent than heroin and the amount of fentanyl equal to three grains of sugar can kill a man. Mexican drug cartels distribute most of the illegal fentanyl. Doctors prescribe this drug to help cancer patients manage breakthrough pain after they develop a tolerance to other strong opioid pain medications. Fentanyl overdose causes lower blood pressure, a slowed heart rate, excessive drowsiness, and death.
6. Morphine Overdose Deaths
Morphine has maintained its standing as the sixth most lethal drug in the country. In 2010, there were 2,941 deaths from morphine and in 2014 there were 4,022 deaths. Morphine manages pain but is easily and regularly abused. Morphine causes breathing to become slow and shallow, and eventually stop during an overdose.
7. Methamphetamine Overdose Deaths
Methamphetamine, known more commonly as meth, use has increased in four short years. It was the 10th most dangerous drug in 2010, with 1,388 deaths; it then increased to seventh place in 2014, with 3,728 deaths. Meth is popular because it is cheap to make, and its use has reached epidemic levels in many parts of the country. Someone suffering from a meth overdose will have an increased heart rate and body temperature because meth is a stimulant. It can result in heart attacks and high blood pressure.
8. Methadone Overdose Deaths
Physicians often prescribe methadone to help people going through heroin withdrawal. It is easily abused and very addictive. Someone going through methadone overdose will have slowed breathing, lowered heart rate, severe drowsiness, and muscle weakness. About 1,000 people a day are hospitalized for opioid abuse. Methadone deaths have decreased from the second most common drug overdose death in 2010 with 4,408 deaths to eighth place in 2014, when dropped to 3,495. There was only a slight decrease in 2015 to 3,276 deaths and 3,314 in 2016.
9. Hydrocodone Overdose Deaths
Hydrocodone has decreased slightly from being the seventh most lethal drug in 2010 to ninth most lethal in 2014. There were 2,844 deaths in 2010 and 3,274 deaths from hydrocodone in 2014. Hydrocodone is a pain medication with a high potential for physical dependency. Hydrocodone overdose manifests in a weak pulse, low blood pressure, and trouble breathing
10. Diazepam Overdose Deaths
Diazepam is the 10th most lethal drug in the United States, causing 1,729 deaths in 2014. In 2010, it was the ninth most lethal with 1,448 deaths. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that treats anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. Someone who is going through diazepam overdose will experience confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and eventually, unresponsiveness.
Preventing Overdose Deaths
Drug overdose is a problem of epidemic proportion in this country. The best way to avoid overdose is to seek help when you are struggling with addiction and know what drugs can cause death from overdoses. The sooner you get help, the safer, healthier, and happier you will be. Visit Fight Addiction Now! for resources on detox, treatment, and recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.