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by Peter Moskos

March 22, 2008

33,541 Drug Overdose Deaths in 2005

The Drug War Rant and Stop the Drug War turned me on to a report by the Center for Disease Control. The just released "Deaths: Final Report for 2005" (hey, it takes a while to count all the dead folk) may not be the most uplifting title, but they do breakdown the two-and-a-half million deaths in America (bet you couldn't have guessed that number).

Here's the shocker: 33,541 people died of drug overdoses (see Tables 21 and 22 of the report for details). The report doesn't breakdown drug overdoses and legal and illegal drugs. But the vast majority of overdose deaths are from illegal drugs (opiates like heroin in particular) and entirely preventable.

Nobody wants to overdose on heroin. You take illegal drugs because you want to get high. Overdoses happen because the drug is stronger than you think. Or you get clean and relapse and forget your tolerance is down. People don't have to die. They would live if only we regulated and labeled this very dangerous drug. Somehow our drug-policy makers have decided that maintaining drug prohibition is worth tens of thousands of death per year. Shame, drug warriors. Shame.


Anonymous said...

It's so rare to read something that tells the truth about overdose deaths.The safe injection site(INSITE)in Vancouver had saved over 1000 lives since it's inception but is in danger of losing it's license because the Conservative government of Steven Harper doesn't care about human life or peoples health.They are religious ideologues with their own very narrow agenda.Most of the people I knew that died from OD were trying to clean up or recently released from prison and just didn't get tolerance at all.The deaths from high quality heroin are very rare as it only happens when there's a new kid on the block trying to drum up business or unaware of how cutting works or even if you cut at all.

PCM said...

During alcohol prohibition in the United States, people died (and got paralyzed) from drinking bad liquor. In the 1920s, some said poisoning was simply God "hanging out... a danger sign to those who violate His law." Alcohol prohibitions were just as wrong then as drug prohibitions are today.

People needn't die from drug overdoses anymore than they should get paralyzed from drinking bad liquor. Overdoses aren't drug deaths; they're prohibition deaths. And they are entirely preventable. We should be focusing on drug addiction as the problem and saving lives as the goal.