Drug overdose death rate in the US

For decades, the US is suffering an opioid epidemic. On this map we’re going to have a closer look at the drug overdose death rate.


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Map showing the death rate in the US related to drug usage

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The United states has the highest rate of drug related deaths in the world. With 20 drug related deaths per 100,000 people, the US has double that of the global number 2, Estonia (9.8). The state with the lowest death rate, Nebraska (7.9), still ranks above the global number 4, Canada (6.9).

West Virginia has by far the highest drug overdose rate of any state in the US. Neighbouring state Kentucky is the second highest in the US.

The opioid epidemic is mostly hitting Native Americans and white working-class Americans. The areas hit hardest in the US, are rural areas.

Since the 90s, the United States is suffering from a significant increase in the use of opioid drugs. As we can see on the graph in this map, opioids are still responsible for 72% of all drug overdose deaths in the US. It’s unknown how many of these overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs. It’s estimated that 50% of drug overdoses are not the result of an opioid product from a prescription, though most abusers’ first exposure had still been by lawful prescription.

The biggest killer of all drugs, is fentanyl. Around 50% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States are the result of fentanyl use. Deaths from fentanyl have increased by 540% across the US from 2015 to 2017. Most of the fentanyl is acquired illegally, with the vast majority of it being produced in China.

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