The top three lethal drugs are tobacco, alcohol, and prescription pain-killers. Ironically, all three are fully legal.
A chart detailing the number of deaths attributed to these drugs in 2011 indicates that tobacco was responsible for up to 480,000 deaths, followed by alcohol and prescription painkillers, with 26,654 and 16,917 deaths, respectively.
But drugs such as cocaine and heroin could potentially be deadlier if they were equally legalized. With the proliferation of such drugs, it’s becoming clearer that they are truly dangerous to society. A good example is heroine, which has increasingly caused many deaths since 2010. In 2013 alone, heroine reported killed up to 8,200 people, in spite of the fact that it’s illegal.
More deaths could be attributed to these illegal drugs, but federal government data omits deaths that aren’t directly associated with the drugs.
Several campaigns have been carried out to teach the public about the dangers of tobacco, but a good number still don’t take the warnings seriously. There has been a reduction in the number of cigarette smokers, though. Tobacco is known to cause lung cancer and other fatal health diseases. To express how grim the picture is, deaths that result from tobacco is more than fatalities from traffic accidents, drug overdoses, and homicides combined. Sadly, out of the 480,000 deaths related to tobacco in 2011, 42,000 were as a result of secondhand smoking.
Deaths caused by alcohol-induced health issues in 2011 were 26,000. But that’s just a small percentage of the total deaths linked to alcohol, such as drunk driving, among other accidents. If all alcohol-related incidents were taken into consideration, the number of deaths caused by alcohol could total 88,000 per year.
The dangers of alcohol in society in general are countless. From crime to family breaks ups, mental damage to lost time, alcohol causes havoc.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, up to 40 percent of violent crimes are committed as a result of alcohol abuse.
On the other hand, there has been an increase in the number of deaths linked to opioid-based prescription painkillers since 1999. The CDC reports indicate that benzodiazepines, an anti-anxiety drug, accounted for 31 percent of painkiller-related fatalities. To control the rate of prescription pain-killer-related deaths, the government has been putting up tighter rules on the distribution of the drugs and has been cracking the whip on medical facilities and doctors who give out the drugs recklessly.
A lot still needs to be done to control drug-related deaths in general.