Prescription Drug Overdose is More Common than These 4 Causes of Death

In 2013, more than 46,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose, the Mises Institute reports. Among those deaths, more than half were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

That number is frightening, but even more alarming is the fact that more Americans die from prescription drug overdose than other causes of death some people may wrongly assume happen more often. While prescription drug overdose isn’t as common as death from heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease, it’s still more common than the following causes of death:

Drunk Driving

Many of us see heart-wrenching stories of drunk driving accidents on the news. When it happens, it’s incredibly sad and disheartening, but it’s not shocking. What is shocking is that death from prescription drug overdose is even more common than fatal drunk driving accidents. In 2013, about 10,000 people died from drunk driving accidents. This number is less than half of the total number of prescription drug overdoses that same year.


Homicide is another unfortunate news story we see often. The news regularly shares shocking details about homicides in regions where we live. The more we see it on the news, the more it starts to feel common – we start to think the likelihood of it happening is high. We start to assume that homicide is one of the more common causes of death outside of natural disease and aging.

This is not the case. In 2013, just over 15,000 homicides occurred in the United States. However, more than 22,000 people died from prescription drug overdoses.

Homicide with Firearm

Gun violence is another major cause of death in the U.S., however it’s not one of the most common ones. A little over 10,000 people were murdered by firearms in 2013. This does not include accidental firearm deaths. Again, this is nowhere near the 22,000 deaths caused by prescription drug overdose.

Accident with Firearm

Accidents do occur in which firearms discharge and a person is killed. While not extremely common, this does happen to a couple thousand people every year. This number pales in comparison to the number of prescription drug overdoses, however we tend to hear more about the former on news and social media.

Many common causes of death, such as homicide, are overestimated because we think we have no control over them. They’re often plastered on the news and Internet for all to see. On the other hand, we underestimate causes of death like heart disease (extremely common), diabetes and other health problems because we think we have control over risk factors and other criteria. However when it comes to prescription drug abuse, it’s easy to forget the probability of overdose is even there. In reality, prescription drug overdose is more common than we think – and it can be prevented.

Learn more about prescription drug abuse treatment offered at Talbott Recovery to take a step in the right direction today.

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