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Illegal drug overdose, while a significant problem, does not kill nearly as many people per year as alcohol abuse and misuse. That being said, however, the statistics regarding drug-related deaths are stark.
According to Medical News Today , there was a marked increase between the number of drug related deaths between 1979 and 1990 (5.3% per year) and between 1990 and 2002 (18.1% per year). Interestingly, the majority of these deaths are reported as being related to opioid-type pain killers (it should be noted, however, that it may be more "acceptable" to report pain killers on a death certificate than heroin consumption, so the research will be affected by such lack of control). Regardless of any deviances in research, these facts certainly highlight that drug use/abuse is a serious problem. The truth is, the easier drugs are are to obtain, the easier they are to abuse.