"During 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. There has been progress in preventing methadone deaths, and death rates declined by 9.1%. However, rates of deaths involving other opioids, specifically heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone (likely driven primarily by illicitly manufactured fentanyl) (2,3), increased sharply overall and across many states."
"In 2014, a total of 49,714 persons died of drug-induced causes in the United States (Tables 10, 12, and 13). This category includes deaths from poisoning and medical conditions caused by use of legal or illegal drugs, as well as deaths from poisoning due to medically prescribed and other drugs. It excludes unintentional injuries, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to drug use, as well as newborn deaths due to the mother’s drug use.
"In a large, nationally representative sample of US adults, the cumulative probability of transition to dependence was highest for nicotine users, followed by cocaine users, alcohol users and, lastly, cannabis users. The transition to cannabis or cocaine dependence occurred faster than the transition to nicotine or alcohol dependence. Furthermore, there were important variations in the probability of becoming dependent across the different racial-ethnic groups. Most predictors of transition were common across substances.
"The 1988 Surgeon General’s report lists the following general 'criteria for drug dependence,' including nicotine dependence (USDHHS 1988, p. 7):
"• Highly controlled or compulsive use
"• Psychoactive effects
"• Drug-reinforced behavior
"In 2015, approximately 20.8 million people aged 12 or older had an SUD in the past year, including 15.7 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.7 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder (Figure 27). An estimated 2.7 million people aged 12 or older had both an alcohol use disorder and an illicit drug use disorder in the past year (Figure 28). Thus, among people aged 12 or older in 2015 who had an SUD in the past year, nearly 3 out of 4 had an alcohol use disorder, and about 1 out of 3 had an illicit drug use disorder.
Addictive Potential: "Of the people who sample a particular substance, what portion will become physiologically or psychologically dependent on the drug for some period of time? Heroin and methamphetamine are the most addictive by this measure. Cocaine, pentobarbital (a fast-acting sedative), nicotine and alcohol are next, followed by marijuana and possibly caffeine. Some hallucinogens—notably LSD, mescaline and psilocybin—have little or no potential for creating dependence."
Ranking of Substances by Potential for Harm: "Method: Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, including two invited specialists, met in a 1-day interactive workshop to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven to the harms to others. Drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance."
Chart Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs