Drug overdose death rate U.S. 2020, by state
The main perpetrator
Opioids account for the majority of all drug overdose deaths in the United States. Opioids include both illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as legal prescription drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone. The abuse of prescription opioids and heroin have both increased in recent years leading to an increased number of drug overdose deaths. In 2020, the death rate from heroin overdose was 4.1 per 100,000 population, while in 2010 there was only 1 death from heroin overdose per 100,000 population.
The sharp rise in overdose deaths from opioids have led many to declare the United States is currently experiencing an opioid epidemic or opioid crisis. The causes of this epidemic are complicated but involve a combination of a rise in dispensed prescriptions, irresponsible marketing from pharmaceutical companies, a lack of physician-patient communication, increased social acceptance of prescription drugs, and an increased supply of cheap and potent heroin on the streets.