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The Legal Drug That Kills More People Than Heroin

By Docta, Nov 27, 2015 | | |
  1. Docta
    Since Nixon declared a “war on drugs” during a speech in 1971 drug policy has been dominated by a certain style of aggressive tactics and rhetoric to curb recreational drug-use, arguably driven less by science and statistics and more by economics and emotion. Last year, over $51 billion (£34 billion) was spent towards this cause in the U.S. alone.

    This graph from Business Insider, below, shows the rates of overdose deaths in America from 1999 to 2013, giving an insight into how unsuccessful, if not counterintuitive, this initiative has become.

    Since 1999, America has seen rising rates of fatal heroin, cocaine and opioid overdoses, with an estimated 300,000 more people addicted to heroin today than a decade ago. This increase in use can largely explain the rise in deaths caused by the drug, which is closely linked to the growth of prescription opioid abuse. While cocaine overdoses have dropped since 2006, they still remain higher in 2013 than they were 14 years previously.

    Perhaps most startling is the rise overdoses of opioid pain relievers, which include drugs such as Vicodin, codeine, and OxyContin. Many of these drugs are perfectly fine in the eyes of the law and can be prescribed by your doctor legally, much to the delight of multi-million dollar pharmaceutical companies.

    November 26, 2015 | by Tom Hale
    Image credit: Business Insider


  1. Alfa
    Yet, alcohol causes twice the amount of fatalities of all drugs combined.
    But that's nothing compared to tobacco mortality, which has 480k a year. In the US that is.
  2. DiabolicScheme
    Part of the problem is how society has distinguished prescription drugs as "appropriate" and "safe" because they are given to you by a doctor with years of medical schooling. Where heroin is posed (rightfully so) as a evil, dangerous, soul sucking drug that is very dangerous.

    Unfortunately, society as a whole isn't knowledgeable about drugs and their dangers. Many assume they are safe and few bother to check to see if its safe to mix medication x with y.

    I'd argue that alcohol is more damaging than any of them (including tobacco), while it's not PHYSICALLY damaging as much as tobacco is to the user it has an enormous social cost because of how it changes a person's perceptions. Alcohol certainly has killed more innocent people (via drunk driving, drunk fighting, drunk accidents) than any of the other drugs in this world.
  3. gonzochef
    Not to mention the fact that alcohol kills more non alcohol users than drugs kill non drug users.
  4. Tinkerblah
    I am glad that I have been tobacco free since July 2004. Now if I could do the same with all the other stuff!
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