Drug-Related Deaths in America essay


Drug use is a major social and health issue in the United States. Thefederal and states’ government have been earnest in implementinglaws to get rid of drugs in the society. Some of the policies thathave been operational include the ‘Zero Tolerance’ and ‘Drug-FreeZones’ (Levinthal, 2015). Ironically, the population of drug usershas been soaring each day. Consequently, drug-related deaths haveincreased to the level of causing jitters among the health careexperts and behavior correction officers.

Since 2000, the rate of deaths due to drug overdose has increased by137% (Rudd et al., 2016). Also, the deaths caused by opioids andheroin overdose have increased by 200%. According to the Center forDisease Control, the United States lost 47, 055 individuals to drugoverdose (Rudd et al., 2016). The rate was an increase of 6.5% on thedeath toll in 2013 (Rudd et al., 2016). The CDC also provides thatboth male and female genders have exhibited an increase in the numberof deaths, particularly, for those aged between 25 and 44 years (Ruddet al., 2016).

The opioid overdose related deaths have increased significantly from7.9 to 9.0 victims per 100, 000 deaths between 2013 and 2014 (Rudd etal., 2016). According to CDC, alcohol, the most abused drug in theUnited States, causes approximately 88,000 deaths annually (Rudd etal., 2016). In addition, the center provides that tobacco smokingcauses one out of every five deaths in the United States. Thistranslates to 480, 000 deaths annually, including, the deathsresulting from second-hand smoke (Rudd et al., 2016). The mortalityrate of heroin, another commonly abused drug in the country, has alsoincreased drastically. In 2002, 2000 individuals succumbed to theheroin overdose. In 2008, the number of deaths had soared by 286%,and 8,000 people died because of a heroin overdose (Rudd et al.,2016). Additionally, every year, 15, 000 Americans succumb to cocaineoverdose and related complications (Rudd et al., 2016).

The statistics on drug-related deaths is worrying. I think thatdrug-related deaths will not subside soon unless the relevantstakeholders change their tactics of combating drug use. I believethat the current policies, despite their popularization, do notaddress the core of substance abuse problem. Besides, the peoplelosing their lives to drugs are the highest within the mostproductive age bracket. Therefore, the country loses millions ofproductive years, and this hurts the economy.

Another major observation is that tobacco, a legal drug in the UnitedStates, is the leading cause of drug-related deaths (Levinthal,2015). It is also ironical that the government and health authoritieshave focused on tightening the policies against the sale of cocaineand heroin as their related deaths are less compared to tobacco. Theauthorities should address the problem comprehensively, withoutrelaxing the law on some drugs, to avoid massive deaths. Theever-increasing trend of drug-related deaths depicts flaws andlimited capacity of the institutions tasked with combating drugs.

In conclusion, thousands of Americans lose their lives to drugs everyyear. Some of the commonly abused drugs include alcohol, marijuana,tobacco, cocaine and heroin. Although tobacco is legal, it causesmore deaths than the prohibited drugs. Most of the people who abusedrugs are in the highly productive age bracket. Therefore, losingthem has adverse effects on the economy development. The increaseddeaths depict flaws in the antidrug laws and their enforcement. Toreverse the trend, the relevant stakeholders should revise the methodof combating drugs by having a comprehensive and practical approach.


Levinthal, C. F.(2015). Drugs, society and criminal justice. Upper SaddleRiver, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Rudd, R. A.,Aleshire, N., Zibbell, J. E., &amp Gladden, R. M. (2016). Increasesin drug and opioid overdose deaths-United States, 2000-2014. MMWR:Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 64(50-51),1378-1382.