According to the drug project and Journal of American Medical Association, 900,000 Americans die a year from substance abuse, alcohol and tobacco. In 2010, 17,000 deaths occurred as a result of illegal drug abuse, while the vast majority of deaths were caused by tobacco and alcohol. Illegal drug abuse might be lower because of the criminality of the substances.
Heroin kills 2,000 a year in America. In England, heroin, methadone and morphine killed nearly 5,000 people. Injecting heroin with a needle can cause infection at the site of the injection. Heroin can cause a user to become unaware, putting the user at risk of injury. Heroin is most often fatal when used in combination with other depressants. Still, excessive amounts of heroin can cause oxygen deprivation to different parts of the body, causing death. Two other facts to take into consideration are that heroin withdrawal can be deadly and heroin is particularly dangerous when mixed with prescription drugs.
Cocaine kills 2,500 Americans a year. Between 2000 and 2004, cocaine killed 575 people in England. Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause organ failure in the heart, kidneys and lungs if taken in excessive quantities. Cocaine can also cause stroke, seizures and infections. Cocaine is also dangerous if mixed with prescription drugs and alcohol. Cocaine and alcohol produce cocaethylene in the liver, which has a high chance of stopping the heart.
Alcohol kills 80,000 Americans a year. Alcohol depresses the nervous system, leading to respiratory failure, coma and death in large doses. Liver failure and heart failure are possible with long-term alcohol abuse. Alcohol also disrupts judgment, causing deaths as a result of accidents. Alcohol can be so deadly when mixed with prescription drugs that prescription drug and alcohol mixing is a common method of suicide.
440,000 Americans die from tobacco use every year. 1.2 million Chinese, 900,000 Indians, 450,000 Russians, 140,000 Germans, 90,000 British die from smoking every year and tobacco causes a variety of cancers, such as lung and oral cancer. Cigarettes interfere with blood flow, causing heart damage and brain damage. Emphysema and severe bronchitis caused by cigarettes can cause lung and heart failure. Smokers also have a much higher chance of stroke.
A study conducted between 1982 and 1998 found that approximately 32,000 Americans die of prescription drug overdoses a year. Many prescription drugs are depressants or stimulants, having many of the similar effects of a heroin or a cocaine overdose. Prescription drugs are particularly dangerous when mixed with other prescription drugs, causing adverse reactions. Also, patients can become dependent on prescription drugs.