Connect with us

Misc

The Spiraling Opioid Epidemic in America

Published

on

US Opioid Epidemic Spiral in America

Can I share this graphic?
Yes. Visualizations are free to share and post in their original form across the web—even for publishers. Please link back to this page and attribute Visual Capitalist.
When do I need a license?
Licenses are required for some commercial uses, translations, or layout modifications. You can even whitelabel our visualizations. Explore your options.
Interested in this piece?
Click here to license this visualization.

The Spiraling Opioid Epidemic in America

Over the last 20 years, the ongoing U.S. opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives. In fact, opioid overdose deaths accounted for nearly 70% of all drug overdose deaths in 2018.

Although the damage of the opioid epidemic is well documented, what people might not know is that it has escalated in three distinct waves.

We pull the latest statistics from the UN World Drug Report 2020 to uncover the scope of the opioid crisis in the U.S., and how national drug-related death rates compare to other countries.

Three Waves of the Opioid Crisis

According to the CDC, the opioid epidemic can be traced back to the 1990s, when opioids started being over-prescribed for pain relief purposes.

  • 1990s – Wave 1
    Over-prescription of opioids for pain relief, including natural opioids, semi-synthetic opioids, and methadone. Addiction risks were widely downplayed.
  • 2010 – Wave 2
    Heroin-related overdose deaths on the rise.
  • 2013 – Wave 3
    Synthetic opioid-related deaths on the rise, particularly fentanyl and tramadol.

Here’s how that breaks down in terms of opioid-related overdose deaths over the years. Note that by the year 2018, 67% of overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

YearAny opioidsHeroinPharmaceutical opioidsSynthetic opioids
19998,0501,9603,533730
20008,4071,8423,903782
20019,4961,7794,935957
200211,9202,0896,7741,295
200312,9402,0807,8391,400
200413,7561,8789,0761,664
200514,9182,00910,2341,742
200617,5452,08812,4232,707
200718,5162,39913,6762,213
200819,5823,04114,0432,306
200920,4223,27814,4312,946
201021,0893,03615,5203,007
201122,7844,39716,1112,666
201223,1665,92515,0722,628
201325,0528,25713,9373,105
201428,64710,57415,5595,544
201533,09112,98916,0289,580
201642,24915,46917,86019,413
201747,60015,48217,68928,466
201846,80214,99615,57531,335

Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and tramadol shot up by over 4,000% between 1999-2018. This can be attributed to two things: their relative potency, and the minute quantities of each that qualify as a lethal dose.

As per the medical and legal standard, opioids are often compared to morphine. To that end, heroin is 2-5x stronger—while fentanyl is 50-100x more potent. Put another way, roughly a dime-size or 10-12mg of heroin is considered a lethal dose, compared to only 1-2mg of fentanyl.

What’s worse, fentanyl is typically mixed with other types of drugs such as heroin or cocaine to increase their effects, which is how it ends up unintentionally ingested. Between 2008-2017, drug-use disorders as a whole claimed the most healthy lives due to poor health or early deaths—measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)—followed in close second by opioid use disorders.

The Death Toll of U.S. Drug Overdoses

It’s undeniable that the opioid epidemic in America has caused significant harm to communities. But how does the U.S. drug crisis compare to the same issue in other countries?

The UN Drug Report further puts these numbers into perspective by comparing drug-related deaths per million population. Note that the source also compiled the total deaths across years for selected countries.

Country (Latest Year)Latest Years of EstimateTotal DeathsRate per 1M (Aged 15-64)
🇺🇸 U.S.201867,367314.5
🇦🇺 Australia2016-20173,240202.6
🇸🇻 El Salvador2018765184.5
🇨🇦 Canada 20184,460179.8
🇺🇾 Uruguay2016264119.4
🇮🇸 Iceland2012-201623105.2
🇸🇪 Sweden201757592.9
🇳🇿 New Zealand201626988.6
🇫🇮 Finland201728983.9
🇬🇧 UK20173,54783

With 314.5 deaths per million, the U.S. by far had the highest proportion of drug-related deaths per million people in 2018. It also had the highest overall number at 67.4K deaths.

Elephant in the Room?

Another drug rearing its head on the streets is carfentanil. Formerly developed as ‘elephant tranquilizer’, this synthetic opioid is similar in appearance to other illicit drugs such as heroin, making it indistinguishable when mixed in. However, there’s one big problem—carfentanil is 100x more potent than fentanyl itself.

In response to the continued crisis, an additional $35.7 billion was requested for counter-drug funding efforts in the FY2021 Budget. This amount is expected to go towards prevention and treatment efforts ($18.6 billion) and law enforcement efforts ($17.1 billion) both domestically and internationally.

But will these efforts properly combat the crisis, or are we already in the midst of a fourth wave of the opioid epidemic?

Click for Comments

Misc

The Top 25 Nationalities of U.S. Immigrants

Mexico is the largest source of immigrants to the U.S., with almost 11 million immigrants.

Published

on

Bar chart showing the top 25 nationalities of US Immigrants.

The Top 25 Nationalities of U.S. Immigrants

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The United States is home to more than 46 million immigrants, constituting approximately 14% of its total population.

This graphic displays the top 25 countries of origin for U.S. immigrants, based on 2022 estimates. The data is sourced from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), which analyzed information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey.

In this context, “immigrants” refer to individuals residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth.

Mexico Emerges as a Leading Source of Immigration

Mexico stands out as the largest contributor to U.S. immigration due to its geographical proximity and historical ties.

Various economic factors, including wage disparities and employment opportunities, motivate many Mexicans to seek better prospects north of the border.

CountryRegion# of Immigrants
🇲🇽 MexicoLatin America
& Caribbean
10,678,502
🇮🇳 IndiaAsia2,839,618
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia2,217,894
🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsia1,982,333
🇸🇻 El SalvadorLatin America
& Caribbean
1,407,622
🇻🇳 VietnamAsia1,331,192
🇨🇺 CubaLatin America
& Caribbean
1,312,510
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicLatin America
& Caribbean
1,279,900
🇬🇹 GuatemalaLatin America
& Caribbean
1,148,543
🇰🇷 KoreaAsia1,045,100
🇨🇴 ColombiaLatin America
& Caribbean
928,053
🇭🇳 HondurasLatin America
& Caribbean
843,774
🇨🇦 CanadaNorthern America821,322
🇯🇲 JamaicaLatin America
& Caribbean
804,775
🇭🇹 HaitiLatin America
& Caribbean
730,780
🇬🇧 United KingdomEurope676,652
🇻🇪 VenezuelaLatin America
& Caribbean
667,664
🇧🇷 BrazilLatin America
& Caribbean
618,525
🇩🇪 GermanyEurope537,484
🇪🇨 EcuadorLatin America
& Caribbean
518,287
🇵🇪 PeruLatin America
& Caribbean
471,988
🇳🇬 NigeriaAfrica448,405
🇺🇦 UkraineEurope427,163
🇮🇷 IranMiddle East407,283
🇵🇰 PakistanAsia399,086
Rest of World11,637,634
Total46,182,089

Mexicans are followed in this ranking by Indians, Chinese, and Filipinos, though most immigrants on this list come from countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

On the other hand, only three European countries are among the top sources of U.S. immigrants: the UK, Germany, and Ukraine.

Immigration continues to be a significant factor contributing to the overall growth of the U.S. population. Overall population growth has decelerated over the past decade primarily due to declining birth rates.

Between 2021 and 2022, the increase in the immigrant population accounted for 65% of the total population growth in the U.S., representing 912,000 individuals out of nearly 1.4 million.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Visualized: Why Do People Immigrate to the U.S.? This visualization shows the different reasons cited by new arrivals to America in 2021.

Continue Reading
Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma

Subscribe

Popular