Drug Overdoses

Preventable drug-related poisoning deaths, or drug overdoses, increased in 2019 after a slight decrease in 2018. Preventable drug overdose deaths increased 5.5% in 2019, from 58,908 in 2018. In 2019, 62,172 people died from preventable drug overdoses – an increase of 457% since 1999. These deaths represent 88% of the total 70,630 drug overdose deaths in the United States, which also include suicide, homicide, and undetermined intents.

Because Injury Facts focuses on preventable injury statistics, this page concentrates on preventable drug overdose trends. The interactive chart analyzes preventable drug overdose deaths by default. However, users can analyze either preventable or all injury intents. To analyze total drug deaths, select “All” in the intent field. When comparing drug overdose deaths to the other preventable causes of death data in Injury Facts (like motor-vehicle crashes, falls, or choking), preventable drug overdose death estimates are recommended.

The chart allows you to compare fatality trends by drug type, age, and gender. When comparing deaths by drug type, multiple drugs are often listed for one death. Because of this, the fatality counts by drug type are not mutually exclusive and should not be added together to calculate totals.

The majority of preventable drug overdose deaths (73%) involve opioids, totaling 45,489 in 2019. Opioid drugs include both prescription and illicit drug categories. The drug category most frequently involved in opioid overdoses and growing at the fastest pace is “synthetic opioids other than methadone.” This category includes fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol. The fentanyl category of opioids accounted for 33,725 preventable deaths in 2019, representing a 17% increase over the 28,918 total in 2018.

A non-opioid, the Psychostimulants category that includes methamphetamines accounted for the second highest number of drug deaths, claiming 15,503 lives in 2019, a 22% increase from the 12,147 deaths in 2018.

The opioid category that includes morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone (natural and semisynthetic opioids) was involved in 15,503 deaths in 2019.

The chart also allows you to explore overdose death trends among a few other non-opioid drugs, including benzodiazepines, cocaine, and cannabis.

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