States With the Highest Rate of Drug Overdoses

Dangerous drugs can be found in a number of forms.
Dangerous drugs can be found in a number of forms.

The United States is the largest market for illicit drugs and every year thousands of tons of narcotics find their way into the country generating billions of dollars for drug cartels. According to the CDC, over 47,000 deaths reported in 2015 were directly linked to drug overdose. Nearly 20 million people in the United States abuse illicit drugs. The organization further states that nearly 91 deaths reported daily are linked to the abuse of opioids. According to the Centre for Diseases Control, these states experience the highest rates of drug overdose.

States With the Highest Rate of Drug Overdoses

West Virginia

In West Virginia, 41.5 in every 100,000 people die of drug overdose and in 2016, 844 people died of drug overdose in the state. The number of deaths related to drug overdose in the state represent a fivefold increase compared to 2001. 86% of the deaths were linked to the use on at least one opioid. The state indigent burial program that offers burial assistance to less privileged families says that it is under immense pressure and cannot handle the number of drug-related deaths.

New Hampshire

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that 34.3 in every 100,000 people die of drug abuse in New Hampshire. In 2015, nearly 500 people died from drug overdose, 2 ½ times more than 2011. The majority of drug overdoses were linked to opioids. Drug overdose rose 191% in the five years leading to 2015. In the first quarter of 2017, a new deadly synthetic drug powerful enough to tranquilize an elephant was discovered in the state. The State Governor Chris Sununu states that the drug, carfentanil is 100 more potent than fentanyl and was responsible for nearly half the deaths in New Hampshire.


In 2016, 4,149 deaths were reported in Ohio, a 36% rise from the 3,310 reported in 2015. The CDC indicate that 29.9 in every 100,000 died of drug abuse. Rust Belt County in southwestern Ohio reported 359 deaths that were linked to the abuse of opioids. By June 2017, Montgomery County had witnessed 360 deaths related to drug overdose, a number that is expected to rise to about 800 by the end of the year according to the county’s chief coroner. The number of drug-related deaths has been increasing at such a high rate that the coroner’s offices in several counties are running out of storage rooms.


Just like Ohio, Kentucky reported 29.9 deaths in every 100,000 people. In 2015, 1273 people died of drug overdose. The number of fatalities linked to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, rose 76% compared to 2014. Jefferson County was the hardest hit with 268 deaths. In the state’s largest city Louisville, heroin overdose is on the rise and paramedics report to responding to over 50 heroin overdose cases in 32 hours. Further medical reports state that Cuyahoga County reported 14 deaths over one weekend.

Effects of drug abuse

Drug abuse does not only lead to the death of abusers, but it is also responsible for the death of thousands of innocent lives who die due to violent criminal gangs. The rise of gangs in cities such as Chicago has been linked to the lucrative drug trade. Drug abuse has also led to a higher rate of mental disorders.

States With the Highest Rate of Drug Overdoses

RankStateAge-adjused rate of Drug Overdoses (Source: CDC)
1West Virginia41.5
2New Hampshire34.3
5Rhode Island28.2
8New Mexico25.3
21District of Columbia18.6
25New Jersey16.3

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