Drug Overdoses

The number of preventable deaths in the United States increased 3.5% in 2019 to 173,040, an all-time high. A 5.4% increase in poisoning deaths helped drive this record high. A total of 65,773 people died from poisoning in 2019 compared to 62,399 in 2018.

Many Americans are familiar with the opioid epidemic headlines dominating the news. Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased 7% in 2019 after declining slightly in 2018. The 25- to 34-age-group is experiencing the most opioid overdose deaths – 12,537 – a 4% increase from 2018, and a 921% increase since 1999. Currently, 73% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, and the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older is growing rapidly. Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.

Over two thirds of preventable opioid overdose death victims are male, 32,131 compared to 13,358 female deaths in 2019. However, since 1999, female opioid overdose deaths have increased at a faster pace than male deaths – 947% for females versus 600% for males. Visit the data details tab to explore more trends by drug type, age, and sex.

It is estimated that the economic cost of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdose in 2017 was $150 billion. In addition, non-economic costs of $871 billion is estimated due to reduced quality of life from opioid use disorder and the value of life lost due to fatal opioid overdoses.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2019 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Data from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2019, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.

Florence, C., Luo, F., & Rice, K. (2021). The economic burden of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdose in the United States, 2017. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 218 (2021). Accessed on line on 1/14/2021: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108350

See data details