Top 3 Deadliest Drugs in the US

Find out the Dangers Posed by the Top 3 Deadliest Drugs in the United States

Heroin, prescription opioids, and benzodiazepines are the top 3 deadliest drugs in the US, according to the latest overdose figures from the CDC. Overdose deaths from prescription and illegal drug abuse have reached an all-time high level in the United States. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%. According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54,000 people in the US died from drug overdoses in 2015. Overall, opioids are by far the deadliest drugs, as they were involved in 63 percent of those deaths, either by themselves or in combination with other drugs. A closer look at the statistics on the deadliest drugs in the US reveals the scope of the problem facing this country.

More people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2015 than during any previous year on record. The number of Americans that die from drug overdoses is now higher than deaths from car crashes. Here is a more in-depth look at the three drugs primarily fueling this overdose crisis.

Prescription and illicit opioids

There has been a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin) since 2000. Prescription and illicit opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, making them the main drivers of the epidemic of drug overdoses in the US. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. These deaths are seen across all racial and socio-economic groups. The data shows that the rise in the United States’ opioid overdose epidemic involves two distinct but interrelated trends. The first is a 15-year increase in overdose deaths involving prescription opioid pain relievers. The second deadly trend is a recent surge in illicit opioid overdose deaths, driven largely by heroin.


Heroin is an illicit opioid drug that has become one of the most common illegal drugs in the US. Deaths from heroin increased 248% between 2010 and 2014. Heroin is now responsible for nearly one in every four overdose deaths in 2015. Heroin was involved in nearly 13,000 overdose deaths in 2015. This increase has been mainly fueled by the rampant prescription opioid addiction in this country.

Prescription opioids

People who are addicted to opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine, and Vicodin are increasingly turning to heroin and other street drugs as the government tries to rein in prescription opioid abuse. As addicts become unable to fill any more prescriptions, they find that buying opioid painkillers becomes extremely expensive. Heroin is a much cheaper alternative. The numbers of opioid addicts turning to heroin continues to rise.

Fentanyl, an incredibly potent synthetic opioid, is beginning to play a large role in opioid related deaths. Cheap fentanyl has been pouring into this country from China. Many users who overdose from fentanyl may not be aware of just how strong it is. Illicit fentanyl is often sold as heroin or combined with heroin to increase its strength, so it might also be contributing to recent increases in drug overdose deaths involving heroin.


Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, are some of the most commonly abused drugs after opioids in the United States. Benzos were involved in more than 8,700 overdose deaths in 2015.  Benzodiazepines are most deadly when used in combination with other drugs. Researchers at Stanford University have found that nearly 30 percent of fatal opioid overdoses also involve Benzodiazepines.

Deaths from overdoses can occur at any time a person uses drugs. If you or someone you love is addicted to prescription opioids, heroin, or Benzodiazepines, you should seek treatment at an addiction rehab center immediately.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.