Causes of Death

Information and data on mortality and drug use, including death rates and overdoses. Contains data on the number of deaths in the United States from various causes, including alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, with particular attention to legal and illegal opioids. Also contains information on mortality, drugs, drug overdose, and on the use of Naloxone to reverse opiate overdoses. Sources include official mortality reports from Centers for Disease Control and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Lethal Dose by Substance

(Lethal Dose by Substance) "The most toxic recreational drugs, such as GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) and heroin, have a lethal dose less than 10 times their typical effective dose. The largest cluster of substances has a lethal dose that is 10 to 20 times the effective dose: These include cocaine, MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine, often called 'ecstasy') and alcohol. A less toxic group of substances, requiring 20 to 80 times the effective dose to cause death, include Rohypnol (flunitrazepam or 'roofies') and mescaline (peyote cactus).

Opioid Overdose Deaths In The US, 1999-2007

(Opioid Overdose Deaths In The US, 1999-2007) "From 1999 to 2007, the number of U.S. poisoning deaths involving any opioid analgesic (e.g., oxycodone, methadone, or hydrocodone) more than tripled, from 4,041 to 14,459, or 36% of the 40,059 total poisoning deaths in 2007. In 1999, opioid analgesics were involved in 20% of the 19,741 poisoning deaths. During 1999–2007, the number of poisoning deaths involving specified drugs other than opioid analgesics increased from 9,262 to 12,790, and the number involving nonspecified drugs increased from 3,608 to 8,947."

Comparison of Lethal Dose Versus Recreational Dose for Alcohol Compared With Other Drugs

(Comparison of Lethal Dose Versus Recreational Dose for Alcohol Compared With Other Drugs) "The lethal dose of alcohol divided by a typical recreational dose (safety ratio) is 10, which places it closer to heroin (6), and GHB (8) in terms of danger from overdose, than MDMA ('Ecstasy' – 16), and considerably more dangerous than LSD (1000) or cannabis (>1000)."

Adverse Drug Reaction Deaths in US Hospitals

(Adverse Drug Reaction Deaths in US Hospitals) "Our study revealed that experiencing an ADR [Adverse Drug Reaction] while hospitalized substantially increased the risk of death (1971 excess deaths, OR 1.208, 95% CI 1.184-1.234). This finding reflects about a 20% increase in mortality associated with an ADR in hospitalized patients. Extrapolating this finding to all patients suggests that 2976 Medicare patients/year and 8336 total patients/year die in U.S. hospitals as a direct result of ADRs; this translates to approximately 1.5 patients/hospital/year."

Marijuana Safety - DEA Administrative Law Judge's Ruling

(Marijuana Safety - DEA Administrative Law Judge's Ruling)
"3. The most obvious concern when dealing with drug safety is the possibility of lethal effects. Can the drug cause death?
"4. Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.

Adverse Drug Reactions

(Adverse Drug Reactions) "Adverse drug reactions are a significant public health problem in our health care system. For the 12,261,737 Medicare patients admitted to U.S. hospitals, ADRs were projected to cause the following increases: 2976 deaths, 118,200 patient-days, $516,034,829 in total charges, $37,611,868 in drug charges, and $9,456,698 in laboratory charges. If all Medicare patients were considered, these figures would be 3 times greater."

Homicide Rates - Basic International Comparisons, 2012

(Homicide Rates - Basic International Comparisons, 2012) "The global average homicide rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, but Southern Africa and Central America have rates over four times higher than that (above 24 victims per 100,000 population), making them the sub-regions with the highest homicide rates on record, followed by South America, Middle Africa and the Caribbean (between 16 and 23 homicides per 100,000 population).

Illicit Drug Use

(Illicit Drug Use) "Illicit drug use is associated with suicide, homicide, motor-vehicle injury, HIV infection, pneumonia, violence, mental illness, and hepatitis. An estimated 3 million individuals in the United States have serious drug problems. Several studies have reported an undercount of the number of deaths attributed to drugs by vital statistics; however, improved medical treatments have reduced mortality from many diseases associated with illicit drug use.