Drug overdoses (Overdose deaths)

In 2007 approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the US, that is one death every 19 min.

In 2020 they were 5.2 deaths per 100,000 adolescents.

in 2002 20.9% of US 12 graders reporting have a used an illicit drug and by 2020 to the percentage had fallen to 8%, yet the mortality rate has increased.

Fentanyl use has been increasingly widespread and is now involved in at least 75% of adolescent overdose deaths.

Fentanyl has been increasingly used as being pressed into counterfeit pills, resembling prescription drugs, which are more likely to be used by adolescents for experimentation.

Most adolescent overdose deaths (84%)  are categorized as unintentional deaths.

Presently one US resident dies every five minutes from a fatal drug overdose.

For more than a decade, drug overdose deaths have been the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

Between 2007 and 2017 more than 700,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.
In 2021 more than 100,000 people died of overdoses in the US, at 28.5% increase from the previous year and a higher number than in any other year.

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the US.

CDC reports that American Indians/Alaskan natives, Black persons have the highest increases in drug overdose deaths in recent years.

Overdose death rates increased across most racial and ethnic groups as income inequality has increased.

Deaths involving synthetic opioids are largely due to the rapid proliferation of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
More recently, overdose deaths involving stimulants such as methsmphetamines and cocaine have increased with and without opioid co-involvement.
As illicitly manufactured fentanyl became more ubiquitous, drug overdose deaths rates increased in all age groups, among both sexes, across most races and ethnicities, within all urbanization levels, and in the majority of US states.

Nationally, more than 81,000 Americans died from drug overdoses between May 2019 and May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a one-year period (CDC).

Drug overdose death rates in the United States increased from 3.4 to 12.4 per 100,000 population from January 1990 through December 2010.

Overdose drug deaths 14.7 per 100,000 population in 2014.

Overdose drug deaths 14.7 per 100,000 population in 2014 61% of deaths involve some form of opiate.

In 2019 each day almost 200 people died from a drug overdose, and opioids were responsible for approximately 2/3 of the deaths.

The number of people dying from illicit drug use surpassed that from prescription misuse, and suggest that most people who misuse illicit opioids do so for chronic pain after losing access to prescriptions.


More than 80% of drug overdose deaths involved opioids.


Opioid overdose deaths involving multiple substances among youth are found to be more common than overdose deaths involving only opioids.

Cocaine and other stimulants were the most commonly found illicit substances in opioid overdose deaths of adolescents and young adults, ages 13 to 25. 

Opioid-only overdose deaths increased by 384%, while polysubstance-involved opioid overdose deaths soared by 760%. 

In 2018, synthetic opioids were present in 73% of 4,623 opioid overdose deaths:

2,476 involved multiple illicit substances. 

Stimulants were involved in 1,541 opioid overdose deaths.


Nearly 85% of overdose deaths involved illicitly manufactured fentanyls, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine (alone or in combination).



A possible opportunity to link people to care is present for more than 3 in 5 people who died from drug overdose.



About 10% of those who die have recently been released from an institution such as jails/prisons, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric hospitals.



Among the people who died from overdoses involving opioids, about 10% had had a previous overdose.



Among all the people who died of a drug overdose, one quarter had a documented mental health diagnosis.



Among the people who died from overdoses involving opioids, nearly 20% had previously been treated for substance use disorder.



Nearly 40% of opioid and stimulant overdose deaths occurred while a bystander was nearby.



More than 3 in 5 people who died from drug overdose had an identified opportunity to obtain care or life-saving actions.



 Naloxone, is a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered in time. 



Overdose deaths can be prevented by:



Enhancing mental health and substance use disorder treatment and support services.



Increasing access to risk reduction services.



Increasing distribution of and access to naloxone, especially for bystanders who may be able to reverse an opioid overdose.



Reducing high-risk drug prescribing practices, preventing initiation of drug use, and addressing use of multiple drugs.

It is estimated 130 people die every day from a drug overdose.

From 1999-2017, more than 700,000 US residents died from drug overdose, the majority of which involves an opioid.

Among persons between the ages of 24-34 years, one in five deaths is opioid related

Increase overdose death rates are substantially related to an increasing prescription opioid-related mortality.

The risk of overdosing on opioids are increased with sleep disordered breathing, end organ dysfunction leading to impaired medication clearance, pulmonary disease and concomitant use of sedating medications.

The association between higher doses of prescribed opioids and higher risk of overdose have been repeatedly replicated.

Higher doses of opioids are associated with higher rates of suicide death.

Increased unintentional drug overdose death rates children by increased use of opioid analgesics.

More overdose deaths from opioid analgesics occur than heroine and cocaine combined.

Estimated that the use of drugs, other than alcohol, is the leading cause of fatal injury in United States, accounting for more than 40,000 deaths per year.

In 2011 1,280,134 hospitalizations were related to drug overdoses, and 1,021,563 or 80% involved drugs only and 20% involved drugs in combination with alcohol.

Surveys indicate that there are more drivers on roads after using drugs and alcohol.

Studies indicate that fatal traffic crash risks of drivers who had simultaneously used drugs and alcohol exceed the fatal crash risk of driving from either alone.

For every unintentional overdose death related to an opioid analgesics, 9 individuals are admitted for substance abuse treatment, 35 emergency department visits, 161 individuals report drug abuse or dependence, and 461 report nonmedical uses of such drugs.

Opioid analgesic misuse and overdose deaths are highest among men, among individuals aged 20-61 years, Caucasians, poor and rural populations.

Populations at risk for prescription drug overdose include approximately 9,000,000 people with long-term medical use of opioid analgesics and approximately 5,000,000 individuals that have nonmedical use of such drugs.

Drug distribution in 1997 was equivalent to 96 mg of morphine per person, and 700 mg per person in 2007, accounting for an increase of greater than 600%.

80% of patients prescribed opioids, are prescribed low doses less than 100 mg of morphine equivalent dose per day by a single practitioner, and these individuals account for an estimated 20% of all prescription drug overdoses.

10% of patients are prescribed greater than 100 mg morphine equivalent dose per day of opioid by single prescribers and account for an estimated 40% of prescription opioid overdoses.

10% of patients seek care from physicians are prescribed high daily doses of opioids and account for 40% of opioid overdoses.

Patients with an opioid overdose require restoration of ventilation and oxygenation through artificial means, or reversal of opioid-induced respiratory depression with naloxone.

Timely administration of naloxone is often sufficient to count the life-threatening respiratory depression.

Non-fatal opioid overdose is a strong predictor of increased short term mortality: 6.2% of patients died of an opioid related overdose within one year and 9.3% within two years.

Post mortem toxicology studies detected gabapentin in almost 1 in 10 US overdose deaths between 2019 in 2020, and about half of the cases, the drug was a cause of death (CDC).
About 90% of the above causes of death involved opioids, primarily illicit fentanyl, and 83% of the deaths occurred among adults age 35 to 54 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *