Drug Overdoses

The number of preventable deaths in the United States decreased from an all-time high of 169,936 in 2017 to 167,127 in 2018, and a decrease in poisoning deaths helped drive this improvement. A total of 62,399 people died from poisoning in 2018, a 4% decrease from 2017.

Many Americans are familiar with the opioid epidemic headlines dominating the news. Preventable opioid overdose deaths decreased 1% in 2018, the first decrease since tracking started in 1999. The 25- to 34-age-group is experiencing the most opioid overdose deaths – 12,063 – a 2% decrease from 2017, but still a 882% increase since 1999. Currently 74% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, and the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older is still growing. Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.

Over two thirds of preventable opioid overdose death victims are male, 29,618 compared to 12,900 female deaths in 2018. However, since 1999, female opioid overdose deaths have increased at a faster pace than male deaths – 910% for females versus 545% for males. Visit the data details tab to explore more trends by drug type, age, and sex.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2018 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January 2018. Data from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2018, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.

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