What’s killing us: Here are the 10 drugs most implicated in overdose deaths

By Phillip Smith

While there are signs that the country’s drug overdose crisis may have plateaued, the number of people dying from drug overdoses continues to be unconscionably high. Shockingly, the number of overdose deaths has increased tenfold since 1980 when there were only 6,000 nationwide and nearly doubled just in the past decade to more than 70,000 last year.

Now, in a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shed some new light on precisely which drugs are most implicated in these deaths. While the report examines overdose deaths from 2011 to 2016, we’re going to zero in on the 2016 data to get as close as possible to the present.

Three drug classes are involved: prescription and non-prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants. Often, fatal overdoses involve more than one drug, whether it is drugs in the same class (heroin and fentanyl) or combinations of drug classes (heroin and benzos or fentanyl and cocaine).

1. Fentanyl: 18,335

2. Heroin: 15,961

3. Cocaine: 11,316

4. Methamphetamine: 6,762

5. Alprazolam: 6,209 (Xanax)

6. Oxycodone: 6,199

7. Morphine: 5,014

8. Methadone: 3,493

9. Hydrocodone: 3,199

10. Diazepam: 2,022

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