NEW YORK — More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever.

The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is a premium subscription that delivers daily market-moving biopharma coverage and in-depth science reporting from a team with decades of industry experience.

What's included?

  • Authoritative biopharma coverage and analysis, interviews with industry pioneers, policy analysis, and first looks at cutting edge laboratories and early stage research
  • Subscriber-only networking events and panel discussions across the country
  • Monthly subscriber-only live chats with our reporters and experts in the field
  • Discounted tickets to industry events and early-bird access to industry reports

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • I am an alcoholic in recovery for 17 years. It’s hard work to stay sober and happy and the same time. But – any time I choose to I stop at the liquor store close enough to walk to and I can drink my self to death tonight – I would not drink my self to death tonight. It would actually take at least two or thee nights of attempting to control my drinking even as I know that we have no power over the second drink.. My alcoholism kicks in no matter how many years it has been since I had a drink of alcohol. it’s patiently waiting for alcohol to enter my body and take back control of me, I can go pick up some Menthol (ummmmm) cigarettes and would be back smoking a pack to two pack as day in 2 days. Legal as rain. Alcohol – legal. People up stairs do not care if we die from alcohol related events. People in charge of this country don’t mention alcohol related deaths. The little warnings – not even in your face pay attention warnings – didn’t change my mind my mother’s lung cancer that skipped down the the road to her brain then killed her. But in this free country I can purchase and smoke tobacco products until I die from lung cancer or COPD – Legally. But I can no longer be prescribed a little pain pill that I used off and on for 8 years for my arthritic back. Doctors have too much pressure on them. OPIOD CRISIS EVERYONE – HIDE your Prescription pain pills from your children, with no warning yet – no worries about the alcohol in your house. When I was a kid we didn’t have the DARE project don’t know if that helps. But we were told Marijuana was the “GATEWAY” Drug. Leads unsuspecting youth right down the drug over dose dead man’s cliff to oblivion Thelma and Louise style. Really? and now it is being made legal because somebody finally listened to the people telling saying this helps with nausea. Helps with pain. If I get sick and need MJ I will just go live by my sister in Washington where you can buy it at any store with the pretty distinctive MJ leaf on the sign.personally smoking weed, especially that skunk smelling nasty stinkytype is on my bucket list to try right after my cremation. The green plays with my body systems and turns me into a Silly Annoying Stumbling woman with my brain slowed down to match my manual transmission in neutral. Car is on, in neutral. press on the gas and it just revs. No forward movement. But I can always find my mouth bend my elbow and shove any ANY edible food product available into my gullet\as it seems like the best move when I’m drinking. Pickled egg? Sure. Pickeled sausage – yes please . A brain numbed hungry angry stupid zombie. No thanks. With eaters remorse the next day. I’m 63 next month and have only every tried that stupid drug half a dozen times and every time it has the same effect. Duh.

    Yes I have a point. WTF is up with this “opiod” crisis. And what happed to “parents hide your liquor.” Lock it away. Your kids will get into it. Lock it up. Now they are saying Parents where are your Xanax, your Hydrocodone, your Percocet your Oxy. Hide them hide them. My thoughts are more on the line of this is supposed to be a free country and I want to know who is responsible for making alcohol legal and tobacco products legal and a line of soft cocaine a crime. An a pain pill impossible to get unless I do what others do drive into a gang infested southeast hole in the wall and take my chances I get out of there alive. You people with your brilliant OPIOID CRISIS are just upstairs on the top desk of the Titanic rearranging the chairs. The problem is in the hold where all the alcohol is. That is the beginning of the end of people genetically predisposed to the disease of alcoholism. I can get addicted the first time I try something if I really love it. BoB singing “Nothing on you Baby” Ed Sheeran singing Perfect. Ray Stevens and his brilliant rendition of Misty and little Grace V from my own home town of Suffern New York. I want all I all I want. Or nothing at all… that’s addiction. I will mourn/crave/pine/be emotionally held hostage by my desire for more. I won’t one French fry. A bite of pizza. Nope nope.

    My point is – where is the information on alcohol and cigarettes. Why have politicians forgotten this is where the problem starts. This kills many more people this is a dreadful disease. Parents are probably not even conscious of the vey real threat of alcoholism. Won’t quote stats because I looked some stuff up but this is not a school project. Oh i know its’ about money, taxes politicians campaign contributions. The machine.

    But alcohol is the most dangerous drug to human beings. A third of all vehicle accidents are caused by alcohol. Folks lock up your alcohol. that’s the point.

  • More than 80,000 people died from Alcohol and/or Alcohol related that same year, but yet, it is still legal, and I don’t see the ATF kicking up any sand over it.
    All the while our Precious DEA is complaining about opioids/heroine being an epidemic? LOL. Not even close to Alcohol related DEAths
    As I said before abolish the DEA because they frantically depend on these high numbers for better jobs while squandering our tax dollars playing GI Joe on our doctors and pharmicists (because they are easy targets and safer) and use that money to rehabilitate the people and all those DEA folks can acquire skills that more constructive.

  • Wrong. Alcohol is a drug. “n estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.”

    But probably more than that die from smoking tobacco! US is still trying to do prohibition on opiods & sponsoring crime.

  • We lost our son in July 2014 at age 22 from Heroin overdose after a long eight year spiral into drug use which started with abusing marijuana. During these years he easily bought illegal drugs as well as prescription drugs from his friends parents medicine cabinets… He also purchased synthetic packaged drugs from “Smoke Shops” also called “Head Shops” which sale their harmful addictive products in decorated packages, call them different names and can legally sale them. Our son was sold “bath salts” from a Smoke shop which he crushed and snorted. The product ate holes in his brain and was causing liver damage and his body to shut down within one week of daily use. He was delusional and put into ICU for two days. He survived it but damage done… Society has a whole has to make changes. People have to be educated on the disease of addiction, doctors have to be more restricted on writing prescriptions, much tighter border control, Smoke shops regulated, kids taught about the dangers of drugs use and what they are saying no to. “Just Say No” is not working anymore and Red Ribbon Week has become more about door decorating and dress up than the seriousness of drug use in most schools. A change of mind set and the ability to deal with stress and pain has to start at a young age so as people get older they will not rely so much on pain killers and drugs which alter the brain. Xanax was very easy for Hayden to get and so addictive. He later took up Heroin and this became his drug of choice. Families should not have to live the way we did with our son during his battle. Society has much work to do to combat this problem.

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy