Out of All Drugs Legal And Illegal, Which Ones Kill?

Picture: William Rafti (CC)

Picture: William Rafti (CC)

If we were to have a sane and adult conversation about drug use and abuse in America instead of waging a war on drugs the same way we wage a war on terror, we might come to the realization that  we’re letting the bad ones in our homes freely while some of the most helpful to improving the quality of life of the average person carry some of the highest minimum prison sentences of all, while touting an infinitesimal number of related deaths.  Some of you may have read Thad McKracken’s well thought out article on the state of drugs in society today.  The numbers fall in lockstep with his thoughts.

It turns out that, aside from Alcohol, Big Pharma is the #1 killer  while drugs that have been used traditionally as entheogens hardly appear in the statistics at all.  Drugs like LSD, DMT, Marajuana, Peyote and other psychedelics are used as a religious sacrament in many belief systems around the world, but are vilified because of their tendency to provide people with what Terence McKenna simply called ‘funny ideas’.

Popsci.com reports:

In 2010, there were 80,000 drug and alcohol overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database. The database, maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics, keeps a tally of all the deaths listed on certificates nationwide. They’re classified by the ICD-10 medical coding reference system.

Death reporting in the U.S. requires an underlying cause—the event or disease that lead to the death. This chart represents all those listed in the CDC database as “accidental poisoning,” “intentional self-poisoning,” “assault by drugs,” and “poisoning with undetermined intent.” In addition to the underlying cause, a death certificate has space for up to 20 additional causes. That’s where “cocaine” or “antidepressants” would show up. The subcategories are limited in their detail—many drugs are lumped together, like MDMA and caffeine, which are listed together as “psychostimulants.” And about a quarter of all overdose death certificates don’t have the toxicity test results listed at all, landing them in the “unspecified” stripe.


Picture: Popular Science (C)

Read more here.


Gabriel Roberts

Gabriel D. Roberts is a theological scholar, researcher and public speaker that specializes in discussions about the nature of perception and belief. After 27 years of passionate searching and study, Gabriel stepped away from his long held Christian faith into a more expansive and fluid worldview.The details and reasons are catalogued in his book, Born Again To Rebirth.Like many others who have had an earnest thirst for the answers to the big questions of life, Gabriel was not satisfied to settle for not knowing more.His latest book, The Quest For Gnosis explores the roots of belief, the power of the ecstatic state in one’s spiritual life and the means by which a deeply satisfying spiritual life may be achieved outside of the bonds of dogma.Within The Quest For Gnosis, Gabriel interviews 20 of the brightest minds in this field of study, including Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Graham Hancock, Daniele Bolelli, Peter J. Carroll, Hamilton Morris, Dr. Aaron Cheak, David Metcalfe, Dr. Rick Strassman and many more.

Gabriel writes for VICE Magazine, Disinfo.com and Realitysandwich.com and is the author of three books. He is continuing his research at the University of Washington in his hometown of Tacoma, WA.

24 Comments on "Out of All Drugs Legal And Illegal, Which Ones Kill?"

  1. Lady of the Snows | Apr 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm |

    Look like cocaine and alcohol are the worst (‘big pharma’ is too heterogeneous and I’m betting its death toll is inflated by deliberate suicide).

    • Calypso_1 | Apr 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm |

      A significant amount of pharmacological death toll both intentional & non is concurrent w/ alcohol.

      • Lady of the Snows | Apr 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

        But the holocaust created by big pharma way exceeds that from alcohol lol.

        • Calypso_1 | Apr 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          That would be a holopharmakos.

          • Calypso_1 | Apr 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

            …apparently somebody isn’t familiar with the origins of Greek pharmacology & it’s role in ritual human sacrifice. Though, for myself, the Sardonic method is far more amusing.

  2. I guess one of the only things we can really do is keep teaching the next generation about the facts in an effort to battle the ugly propaganda that keeps this issue submerged and our minds prejudiced, therefore unable to rationally debate about it.

  3. Hadrian999 | Apr 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

    I say legalize everything(though I would place zoning restrictions where some could be manufactured) let people kill themselves however they want

    • Gabriel D. Roberts | Apr 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

      I agree. The idea of true personal freedom means freedom to end your own life if you so choose. I don’t recommend it, but it should come standard with every life.

      • InfvoCuernos | Apr 27, 2013 at 9:33 pm |

        I’d be all for full legalization except for the fact that I’ve seen people strung out on heroin and I’m pretty sure not a single one of them thought about that end of its use when they first started doing it. It would be nice if we lived in a world where one person’s personal choice didn’t fuck up everybody else’s lives, but you get one junkie or tweeker living in your apt. complex and you will see that this is not that world.

        • Hadrian999 | Apr 28, 2013 at 2:30 am |

          if he or she is messing up your life they are most likely committing some other crime, if not either show them why they should stay out of your way or buy them a big enough dose to never bother anyone again, problem solved

          • InfvoCuernos | Apr 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

            That’s the practical approach, and the only one that will work. I heard an urban legend once that China poisoned a bunch of confiscated heroin and gave a one month warning that they would be letting it back on the streets. The story goes that within six months, China’s heroin problem was gone. I have not found any corroborating proof of this story, but it makes a nice fairy tale.

        • PattyFromTexas | Apr 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

          I’ve seen MANY people strung out on alcohol. Alcoholism has destroyed many families including my own. All 4 of my uncles were alcoholics, one of them died from it after he cleaned up, my grandfather died of it. Anything addictive destroys health, families and lives, heroin, alcohol, nicotine, but pharmaceutical drugs are the biggest killer of all.

          • InfvoCuernos | Apr 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm |

            I agree with you on that point. I wonder how many people indulge in alcohol only since it is legal. We know that being illegal does not stop the use of illicit drugs, but I wonder if a drug’s legal status increases the number of users. I also wonder how many people do pharmaceuticals recreationally with the justification that if its okay to take when prescibed, then it must be safe for general consumption. I’m sure there is data on the number of users before and after legalization of various previously outlawed substances.

    • let everyone wear sidearms and settle their disputes in the street like real men.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Apr 27, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

    it’s incorrect to assume that drug laws are about safety
    they have always been about control
    especially the control of ideas which they have worked so hard to maintain
    safety is the word used to justify the removal of human rights
    it’s classic NewSpeak

    • Gabriel D. Roberts | Apr 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm |


    • David Duke-Astin | Jun 1, 2013 at 9:58 am |

      it’s one of the backdoors in a “free” society that allows government monitoring with impunity. Also included are child pornography, “terrorism” (how much privacy have we lost in a decade due to “terrorism”?) and the endless regulations that somehow manage to allow massive fraud and subsidies while tormenting the powerless.

  5. Let’s add in lethal violence as a direct result of the consumption of alcohol and watch the graph take on a truly distorted aspect. Yeah, they don’t overdose on alcohol that much because before that they ‘very’ often end up in a bar brawl, drunken rampage, traffic accident or any other stupid means of death by ‘er’ misadventure that alcohol causes.

  6. WTFMFWOMG | Apr 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

    There are three kinds of laws:
    “God’s” Law: Do what is right. Not just for yourself, but for everyone involved.
    Man’s Law: Do what you say you will do. Keep your promises and contracts.
    Vulgar Law: Do what I tell you to do.
    The drug prohibition statutes clearly fall in the third category. It is the need of the psychopathic minority to control the majority which leads to prohibition. Something always must be illegal because one cannot rule an innocent person.

  7. Echo Moon | Apr 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

    sooner or later the powers that be, are gonna get busy and seriously shut down this kind of thing so that “legal” drugs look good and the illegal drugs that help are gonna look like the bad guys that they say they are!!!

  8. Jon Norris | Apr 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

    I have definetly got the qualifications to comment on this topic. I am 34 by the time I was 22 I was doing about 1000mg of Oxycodone per day I have done about every drug that there is to do except for psychotropic drugs like Prozac or Paxil. My peak of drug use was 20-25 during that time I was in college with a 3.5GPA in mechanical engineering I also ran a garage very succesfully I didn’t miss any classes or days at my shop. My life was destroyed when I got caught with one 40mg Oxycontin they tried to give me 7 years I had never been in trouble before so I left town and worked on the road with some friends of mine. People tell me see how the drugs destroyed your life I tell them it wasn’t the drugs it is the laws around the drugs. Now I am a convicted felon so it is hard to get a job with a decent company. I have never hurt nor stolen anything from anybody or anything. I worked hard and spent my money to get high. I started with pot this is where they say “gateway drug” I have to disagree there are two things that led me to heavier drugs 1. if the D.A.R.E. program lied to me about the facts of pot then why should I trust them on the effects of other drugs. 2. Because drugs are illegal it means for me to buy pot I had to go to a drug dealer who may run out of pot and offer me something else instead.
    Now I do have some ways that I think would solve the drug problems in the U.S. If I could go to a store and buy heroin that I know is 62% pure I would much rather do that than go on the street and buy some that may be 5% or 95% that’s one reason I did Oxy because every pill is the same you are much less likely to OD when you know exactly what you are getting. So legalize and regulate drugs or at least have test kits so you can check your own drugs. Second thing is tax the drugs the price would still be signicantly lower than buying them on the streets the high profits come from the risk of selling them on the black-market. If you outlaw denim jeans then the price of a pair of Levi’s would skyrocket people would get mugged. Rival gangs would get into fights over turf territory. Next is what you do with the tax collected that money should be earmarked for two things and two things only 1. Real drug education not propaganda but something along the lines of testimony of recovered and active addicts alike. 2. Rehabs this way people that do drugs will only cost other drug users.
    Next as with gun laws I have never robbed a store to get my drugs but in certain states if you use a handgun while committing a crime then it adds time to whatever the crime is. So my proposal is if you rob a house let’s say the charge carries 5 years well I say if you do on drugs (not pot) then it should add 40% more time to the charge or something like that.
    How many families are torn up by drug laws I bet, I don’t have the stats, but how many mothers are left to take care of their children often on welfare because the father is in jail doing time for a mandatory minumum sentence. This often leaves the child with no male role model, growing up in poverty, which all leads back to gang life and back to drugs and even if someone is single and may have a promising future and it be ripped out from under them. I know a teacher and a psycologist each were caught one with a gram of cocaine and one with a quarter gram of methamphetimine that was enough to give them felony charges and now neither one can work in the field that they recieved their college degrees in. I have rambled on enough but this topic is important to me

    • Jon Norris | Apr 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

      I ended up receiving 3 years for that first offense possesion charge. I also want to let everyone know that my drugs of choice are things like LSD and DMT Shrooms etc.

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