Scott Olson

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in 25 states and cause more accidental deaths than car accidents in 36 states and Washington D.C., according to a new report from the Trust of America's and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Overdoses now cause nearly 44,000 deaths per year, a figure that has more than doubled in the past 14 years, the groups say.  Overdoses have "significantly increased" in 26 states and Washington, D.C. in the past four years, and have decreased in six.

Here's where the increases have occurred:

Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Most of these deaths relate to prescription drug abuse, although the overdose rates between illicit and licit drugs are about equal for all age groups.


"In the past two decades, there have been many advances in bio-medical research, including new treatments for individuals suffering from pain, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety and sleep disorders," the report reads. "At the same time, however, there has been a striking increase in the misuse and abuse of these medications, where individuals take a drug in a higher quantity, in another manner or for another purpose than prescribed, or take a medication that has been prescribed for another individual."

Here's the map showing where drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death:

Fusion, data via Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


And the state rates map. West Virginia had the highest rate, at 33.5 per per 100,000 people. Overdoses accounted for more than one-third of the state’s overall injury deaths. North Dakota has the lowest rate, at 2.6 per 100,000.

Fusion, data via Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Although prescription drugs accounted for a significant quantity of overdoses, O.D. rates for illicit drugs weren't very far behind. Here's the breakdown by age:

Trust for America's Health & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.