In an article published by Mahoning Matters author Kelcey Norris examined the classes of drugs to most likely lead to fatal overdose. According to the results of an analysis carried out by Zinnia Health experts and using data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse collected over the period spanning from 1999 to 2021, there were over 1.65 million overdose deaths. In addition, it was found that the majority of drug-related overdose deaths were caused by the following substances :


  1.     Opioids


Opioids are a class of drugs derived from either morphine, a naturally-occurring substance found in the poppy plant, or a synthetically created version. Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has shown that nearly 88% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. In addition, a significant portion of opioid-related deaths were linked to heroin, which is a semi-synthetic opioid as it is made from morphine that has been chemically processed. Canada is also in the midst of the opioid crisis and according to the latest figures from the Government of Canada there were a total of 42,494 apparent opioid deaths overdose deaths in Canada from January 2016 to September 2023; of those opioid deaths 82% involved the use of fentanyl, which is an increase of 44% since 2016. 


  1.     Stimulants and psychostimulants


Stimulants are a broad class of drugs that increases nervous system activity, including methamphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA. Most recent data from CDC shows that psychostimulant overdose deaths increased by 37% from 2020 to 2021, while cocaine was involved in nearly 23% of overdose deaths in 2021.


  1.   Benzodiazepines


Benzodiazepines are nervous system depressants, slowing down the activity of the brain and nervous system, and are often medically prescribed as sedatives and tranquilizers. These drugs have a potential for abuse and according to data released by CDC, the number of overdose-related deaths due to diazepines has been on the rise in recent years. Moreover, benzodiazepines have been increasingly used as adulterants in drug samples containing opioids such as fentanyl, thereby increasing the risk of deadly overdose.


  1.     Antidepressants


This class of medication is prescribed to treat clinical depression or prevent it recurring. The number of overdose deaths in the United States linked to antidepressants has been on the rise, and there is also a growing number of deaths linked to antidepressants mixed with opioids.


Over the last two decades, the rate of overdose deaths in the U.S. has dramatically increased from 8.2 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2002 to 32.6 deaths in 2022, as shown by data collected by CDC. “This is a growing problem, but our response in the U.S. has been largely static. People suffering from substance use disorders should seek help as soon as possible because effective treatments that can help prevent overdose death and other negative outcomes do exist,” said Dr. David Hu at Zinnia Health, in his interview with Mahoning Matters.