Why Americans are Dying More from Drug Use

Drug Death Evidence

The entire subject of drug and alcohol addiction is a very depressing and unpleasant subject. In fact, this is probably the most unpleasant and depressing subject when it comes to the health and vitality of the American people. At the very least, it’s right up there with cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses and problems.

When we examine the drug abuse and alcoholism issue, the biggest problem that our attention is drawn to instantly is the death toll from drug abuse. According to new information published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, drug overdose deaths have increased by over six-hundred percent in the last three and a half decades.

A Death Toll Like No Other

An article published recently in the medical journal JAMA indicated that, from the year 1980 to 2014, drug overdose deaths have soared by exactly six-hundred and eighteen percent. Since 1980, drug overdose deaths have increased in every single county in the United States. But that does not mean that drug abuse has increased with uniformity amongst counties. According to the research, some counties have been absolutely devastated by this issue, primarily counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

US map
West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia devastated by drug overdose deaths

To put this in perspective, the increase in overdose deaths tallies at just over six-hundred percent for the entire nation, as mentioned above. However, closer inspection indicates that one county in West Virginia, Boone County, has experienced a spike of no less than eight-thousand three-hundred and sixty-nine percent since 1980. This means that about fifty-seven people for every one-hundred-thousand residents are dying from drug overdoses, whereas the national average is closer to thirteen people or so for every one-hundred-thousand residents.

The research paper went on to examine the actual numbers of deaths and what those numbers break down too. In 2016, which is the most recent year for which we have completed numbers, more than sixty-three thousand people died from drug overdoses. At this point, drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental and preventable death, surpassing car accidents in 2015. Except for two “choice-based” ailments, cigarette smoking and obesity, nothing kills as many Americans that is preventable or accidental than drug abuse and alcoholism.

Why are So Many Americans Dying from Drug Use?

Whet question mark on the asphalt with Drugs sign

Understandably, a lot of people are quite confused as to why and how so many Americans have died from drug abuse. In reality, the answer is quite a simple one.

The brutal truth is that we brought this problem on ourselves, the moment we bought into the concept that pharmaceutical drugs, i.e. opioid pain relievers and psychotropic medications, were the solutions to all of our physical pain and mental strife. In the mid-1990s, the medical and pharmaceutical industries brought forward painkiller drugs as a “risk-free solution” to the pain problems that millions of Americans were facing.

Shortly after that, it became very clear very quickly that these drugs were not harmless by any means. Even the prescription painkillers that were causing the majority of the problems were not safe or harmless, even though we were told that they were. Pharmaceutical opioids are actually some of the most addictive drugs available. Some addicts even indicate that they are more addictive than illegal street drugs are.

Americans take more pills than they should, still believing that the drugs cannot hurt them because they are legal and “Supposed to help me right?” They overdose, and they die from them. We need to shift our viewpoint about such drugs because as long as we believe collectively that the drugs are safe and helpful to us, the more likely we will fall prey to addictions to them, and possibly even death from them.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.