Top 10 Drugs that are causing overdoses:

. When one’s metabolism cannot detoxify fast enough due to drugs being consumed in large quantities, inadvertent and adverse effects can occur, including overdose. Further, more and more individuals are overdosing on prescription drugs although stereotypically people still think of overdoses in relation to street drugs.

Several studies show that the following drugs are the most commonly abused which result in overdose. Although there is a small amount of variance among the last 5, the first 5 are almost always ranked accordingly.   A recent study conducted by the National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSS), a branch of the CDC, entitled Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2010-14, indicates that the top 10 drugs involved in lethal overdoses were (in order):




Alprazolam (Xanax)






Diazepam (used to treat anxiety)

Also noteworthy, researchers at the CDC found that deaths from heroin overdose tripled during the last 5 years, and deaths from methamphetamine abuse more than doubled. Deaths involving fentanyl, a commonly abused drug for treating pain, also doubled — in just one year, from 2013 to 2014.

Source: Warner M, Trinidad JP, Bastian BA, et al. Drugs most frequently involved in drug overdose deaths: United States, 2010–2014. National vital statistics reports; vol 65 no 10. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2016.

Is Carfentanil to Blame for Record High Heroin Overdoses?

In Cincinnati, a terrifying heroin overdose crisis is underway. In a city where 4 overdoses a day are typical, last Tuesday and Wednesday saw 78 overdoses and there were an estimated 174 overdose cases in local emergency rooms in less than 1 week.

Close by, New Jersey saw 29 heroin overdoses between Tuesday and Thursday in Camden on free samples of heroin marketed with a Batman stamp, in Indiana, 13 people overdosed Tuesday in Jennings County, about 60 miles north of Louisville and in Kentucky, 12 people overdosed on heroin Wednesday in Montgomery County, about 100 miles east of Louisville.

Law enforcement and medical personnel believe that the potent heroin is from the same source and they are working overtime to find the dealer. Although there is speculation that fentanyl has been mixed with the heroin, some are beginning to think the mega-potent, animal opioid, carfentanil is to blame.

Carfentanil, an analgesic for large animals including elephants, was discovered in July in the region’s heroin stream in Akron and Columbus. Unfortunately, hospitals in the region are not equipped to test blood for the animal opioid, which is rare and only in July surfaced in greater Cincinnati’s street heroin.

“The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has been on alert for carfentanil since its appearance in U.S. and at the Canadian border, said Melvin Patterson, a DEA spokesman in Washington. “Officials have little doubt that the carfentanil that’s showing up in street drugs is from overseas, just as fentanyl is manufactured and brought across the U.S. borders. It’s such a restricted drug there’s only a handful of places in the United States that can have it,” he said.

The DEA is currently working with Chinese counterparts who want to stop the illegal shipments. Patterson indicated that carfentanil has been manufactured in China, delivered to Mexico, shipped to Canada and then to Ohio. Further, there also have been reports of carfentanil shipping directly to Canada, and being intercepted by Mexican drug organizations. No matter how carfentanil is coming into the U.S., preventative measures to stop its import all together are crucial.



Celebrities and Drug Overdose

The New York Times reports, “Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose — with a hypodermic needle still stuck in his arm and 70 baggies of the drug inside his Greenwich Village pad Sunday, authorities said. He was 46…. Hoffman — a versatile and prolific actor famed for his vivid portrayals of troubled souls — had repeatedly struggled with substance abuse. He spent 10 days in rehab last year for abusing prescription pills and heroin after 23 years of sobriety.” (

This tragic news came as a shock to many who loved the Academy Award winning Capote and recent Hunger Games Hollywood star, just as many have been shocked about previous celebrity drug overdose related deaths.  The occurrence of celebrity drug overdose, which some feel is on the rise, begs the question, “Are celebrities more prone to addiction than non-celebrities?”

Perhaps they are.  Celebrities are certainly surrounded by the rich and famous, and Hollywood/pop culture often includes drug users.  Also, they often have a lot of money and cash is important and essential for an addict.  However, most would argue that celebrities are not more prone to drug abuse, but we definitely hear about it when they succumb to drug use.  Either way, drug overdose is always tragic, whether it involves a celebrity or not.


The Center for Disease control today released new findings on prescription drug overdoses.  According to the latest findings, prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in the past decade.  Some of the other stats include:

  • Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the US in 2008. This is more than 3 times the 4,000 people killed by these drugs in 1999.
  • In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers in the past year.
  • Nearly half a million emergency department visits in 2009 were due to people misusing or abusing prescription painkillers.
  • Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs.

The entire article can be read here.  Information courtesy of the Center for Disease Control.

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