The New York Times recently estimated that American deaths from drug overdoses would surpass 59,000 in 2016, the largest annual jump in history. The heroin and opiate epidemic is continuing to grow in scale and drugs are now killing more people in the U.S. than car crashes. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and cheap heroin are fueling the epidemic and overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans aged under 50.
The U.S. has 185 drug-induced deaths per million of its population, a rate far ahead of other developed nations. Estonia has the highest drug-induced death rate per million people in Europe with 102. Sweden follows close behind with 101 while the UK has 60. The U.S. might be able to learn something from Portugal which decriminalized drugs in 2001. Since then, its rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases and drug-induced deaths have both fallen dramatically. Today, Portugal has 6 drug-induced deaths per million of its population while the U.S. rate is 31 times as high.