Statistics tend to back him up. Deaths from prescription drugs tripled nationwide from 2000 to 2008 and exceeded deaths from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug deaths reached an all-time high of almost 37,500 in 2009, the tipping point in an ongoing trend reported by the Los Angeles Times: For the first time, drugs killed more people in this country than car crashes.
In Illinois, drug deaths first outnumbered traffic fatalities in 2006, when 1,410 drug-related cases were reported, according to the CDC.
As drug abuse has increased in the Chicago area, none of the traditional street drugs has gone away. Instead, heroin use has spread from the city to the surrounding counties, according to a 1998-2008 Roosevelt University study last year.