Did You Know America’s 3 Most Deadly Drugs Are Legal?You are here:
Millions of people have legal access to deadly, addictive drugs in America every single day. And the number of deaths caused by these substances continues to rise. So, what are the most deadly legal drugs in the U.S. and why are they causing so many deaths? Here are some things you need to know.
When it comes to statistics on substance use and overdose deaths, the focus is usually on illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and illicit fentanyl. But, you may be shocked to learn that legal drugs such as alcohol, prescription painkillers, and tobacco cause more deaths each year than illicit drugs.
To demonstrate the enormous impact that these 3 deadly legal drugs have on people’s lives, we’ve compiled some surprising and shocking facts.
Alcohol: #1 Most Deadly Legal Drugs
Social events and entertainment venues across America typically include alcohol in the form of beer, wine, or liquor. Especially during the holidays when alcohol sales and use soar. Although it is legal to consume alcohol, a person may face fines or jail time if they cause a fight or accident while drunk. However, aside from death, the most devastating impact of alcohol occurs when a person’s loses everything they hold dear due to prolonged alcohol use.
Each year, over 3 million people die from alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol use disorder, according to the National Center for Drug Use Statistics (NCDAS). Also, about one in ten people over the age of 12 meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol use causes disease and death in many ways. Here are a few examples:
- Liver disease is the main cause of alcohol-related deaths.
- Alcohol-related heart disease and stroke cause 9,000 deaths per year.
- Alcohol poisoning causes about 32% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
- Suicides account for 22.5% of acute alcohol-related deaths.
- About 291,000 people are hospitalized for alcohol-related pancreatitis each year.
- People who drink are 16% more likely to develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Alcohol-provoked lung disease includes pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
- Alcohol raises blood pressure which impacts the cardiovascular system.
- Long-term alcohol use can cause memory loss and cognitive decline.
All in all, the whole body is impacted by alcohol use, causing more than 200 health conditions.
Tobacco: #2 Most Deadly Legal Drugs
Although tobacco use has decreased in the past several decades, it is still linked to one in five deaths each year, according to the CDC. More than 480,000 deaths annually are attributed to tobacco, including deaths from second-hand smoke. These statistics highlight the risks of using this deadly legal drug.
Tobacco use reduces the life expectancy for smokers by 10 years due to smoking-related diseases such as:
- Lung Cancer and Other Cancers
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Pneumonia, Influenza, TB
- COPD, Emphysema, and Chronic Bronchitis
- Certain Eye Diseases
- Suppressed Immune System
Furthermore, smoking by pregnant women can result in prenatal conditions and sudden infant death syndrome.
Over 28 million Americans are regular smokers so the death and disease statistics aren’t likely to decrease by much. Smoking harms almost every organ of the body and remains the leading cause of preventable death, disease, and disability.
Prescription Painkillers: #3 Most Deadly Legal Drugs
An opioid epidemic continues to plague the U.S. as a direct result of prescription painkillers. Since the 1990s, the amount of opioids prescribed has steadily increased. The number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids has also increased.
Approximately 45 people die each day from opioid overdoses and 24% of the deaths are due to prescription opioids. The most common prescription opioids involved in overdoses are:
Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are helpful tools that contribute to overdose prevention. The program provides real-time information to physicians and other prescribers to help reduce over-prescribing. As a result of this program, many people may avoid opioid addictions and overdoses.
Get Help Overcoming Dangerous Addictions at Design for Change Recovery
Any drug addiction can damage your health and put you at risk for overdose or death. At Design for Change Recovery, we will help you overcome addiction whether it involves legal or illicit substances. Our comprehensive program integrates a range of evidence-based therapies that we customize to align with your unique situation.
As a JCAHO-accredited facility, Design for Change meets the strict requirements regarding client safety and care. We are also in-network with many major insurance companies to help you get affordable, high-quality treatment.
If you are struggling to control your drug or alcohol use and have lingering side effects, today is a good day to make a change. Don’t let substance use continue controlling your mind and body and ruining your life.
Our full-continuum of care is client-centered to ensure you get the right treatment approach for your needs. Contact our Lancaster, CA facility for more information on our treatment options.
cdc.gov/tobacco – Cigarette Smoking in the U.S.
drugabusestatistics.org/ – Alcohol Abuse Statistics
niaaa.nih.gov/ Medical Complications: Common Alcohol-Related Concerns
cdc.gov/ – Opioid Overdose