Comment: Looking through the comments

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Looking through the comments

Looking through the comments it seems like some people don't look at graphs very often and found this one confusing. I don't think there was anything malicious in how they arranged this graph, it is fairly common on this type of graph to put the thickest line on the bottom and lay the thinner lines on top. Anyway, here's an explanation of the graph for anyone that's unfamiliar with how to interpret this sort of graph.

The Y axis (vertial) is drug overdose deaths/100,000 people('s deaths).
The X axis (horizontal) is for each year, starting in 1999 and going to 2010.

In 1999 the total deaths due to drug overdoses was about 11 or 12 per 100K, by 2010 it has increased to 26 per 100K.

The green component on bottom is the contribution from prescription drugs. Back in 1999 it was maybe a 1/3 of the OD deaths (~4 deaths / 100K people). By 2010 it had more than doubled to ~12/100K, now accounting for maybe just over half of all overdose deaths.

The teal is unspecified, so not much to say, might be proportional to size of bars around it or may be people who had multiple drugs in them.

Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc...up top doesn't mean more deaths from them. Look at the width (really height) of the bar - that is the # of deaths per 100,000 people. So, alcohol overdoses cause maybe 2.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 1 person in 1999.

Cocaine looks to be about flat at 1.5ish in both 1999 and 2010.
Heroin is less than 1 per 100K in 1999 and still less than 1 in 2010.
Narcotic about same as heroin.
Meth/ecstasy was barely measurable in 1999 and less than 1 in 2010.
Other (which includes pot) was 0 in 1999 and 0 in 2010, which makes sense b/c the CDC has agreed before than they have no record of anyone ever dying of a pot overdose.

The graph isn't complex, just don't assume a higher label on the graph equates to a higher rate - you look at the drugs color and what portion it contributed to the whole and that is the rate.

The main message I see here are:
#1 Drug overdoses have skyrocketed in the US, more than doubling in just 10 years.
#2 Most of that increase was in prescription drugs, which accounted for about 1/2 of specified drug deaths (meaning ignoring the "we don't know teal part") in 1999 and about 2/3 of specified drug deaths in 2010.
#3 Alcohol overdoses are increasing at a significant rate (also doubled in 10 years).
#4 Deaths from ODing on cocaine, heroin, meth, ecstasy, and "other narcotics" have been relatively flat over the last 10 years. They collectively cause less then 1/3 of OD deaths that prescription drugs caused in 2010.
#5 Rx meds (in 1999 thru 2010) were the most popular chemical means to intentionally kill oneself. With intentional Rx overdose #s being about equal to general cocaine & heroin ODs combined.