Coronavirus vs Opioid Epidemic


The idea of comparing health crisis issues is not new. The opioid epidemic has been compared several times to the HIV epidemic, the flu, and countless others. I want to compare the opioid epidemic to the most recent health crisis, COVID 19.

This topic recently went viral on Facebook when a user wrote that heroin-related overdoses had killed more people in the US in one day than the new Coronavirus had. The post was shared 75,000 times.

Keep in mind, this post occurred back in March. People get very passionate about both situations, but we wanted to set that aside and see which one could be labeled worse, even if it is a little arbitrary.

We should lay some ground rules before really comparing the two. Perhaps the biggest of these is the fact that the opioid epidemic is an American specific health crisis, which is not the case with the Coronavirus, which is a global health crisis. For this reason, we will only be looking at the American metrics.

Additionally, the opioid epidemic has been an ongoing and growing problem over the last decade while the Coronavirus began to emerge in 2019, so it may not be realistic to compare total deaths. We will include these numbers; however, they will not be part of our final determination. Another disclaimer I would be remiss not to mention is the CDC has stated the statistics on both the opioid crisis and the Coronavirus are not perfect. Certain factors make the number more of a very well-educated estimate than an unquestionable fact.

For this reason, we are going to compare the worst daily average of both to determine which is worse at this time. Also, we will be comparing the total deaths from both.

Unfortunately, there is no agreed-upon worst day for overdose deaths in the United States. But the current estimate for daily deaths is 130 deaths from an opioid overdose. While I am sure there are worse days, it is hard to nail down verifiable data on one such day. We do, however, have the worst day for Coronavirus deaths. May 1st, 2020 saw 2,909 people died from the virus. This statistic however doesn’t help us without the data to compare to the opioid epidemic. Let’s see if yearly deaths will give us a clearer picture.

The opioid epidemic has killed 769,367 people between 1999 and 2018. The number of deaths from the Coronavirus in the US stands at 93,519. Even the worldwide figure is not even half of that of the opiate epidemic currently standing at 326,000.

However, if you compare the worst year of the opiate epidemic to the number of US deaths from the Coronavirus, it paints a different picture. The worst year of the opioid epidemic was 2018, with 70,237 people dying from an overdose that year and comparing that to the number of coronavirus deaths in the US this year so far. The Coronavirus has killed more.

In closing, both have destroyed countless lives. While the opioid epidemic has killed far more people in the United States, it has also been going on far longer. At this point, the only way to compare the two is by comparing the worst years of both. In which case, the Coronavirus is slightly more deadly.

It is important to note there is a massive amount of money, interest and resources to control the spread of Coronavirus which will in all likelihood, not only curb the number of deaths and prevent them from skyrocketing again, it will at some point reach very little to no deaths.

On the other hand, the same amount of not only resources but COOPERATION amongst families, businesses, individuals and communities, local, state and federal governments, does not exist in the shoulder to shoulder effort to fight the opioid epidemic which means there are more deaths in store. Thousands more.

For information on help with drug addiction, please give us a call. We are here to help you find support for your loved one during this difficult time.



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.