Overdose Death Rates

The U.S. government does not track death rates for every drug. However, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does collect information on many of the more commonly used drugs. The CDC also has a searchable database, called CDC Wonder.

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 1. National Drug Overdose Deaths—Number Among All Ages, by Gender, 1999-2018. More than 67,300 Americans died from drug-involved overdose in 2018, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. drug overdose deaths involving any illicit or prescription opioid drug from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths rose from 38,329 in 2010 to 70,237 in 2017; followed by a significant decrease in 2018 to 67,367 deaths. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths by gender from 1999 to 2018 (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 2. National Drug Overdose Deaths by Specific Category—Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. Overall, drug overdose deaths declined from 2017 to 2018 with 67,637 drug overdose deaths reported in 2018. Deaths involving other synthetic narcotics other than methadone (including fentanyl and fentanyl analogs) continued to rise with more than 31,335 overdose deaths reported in 2018. Those involving cocaine or psychostimulants with abuse potential (mostly methamphetamine) also continued to trend upward (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 3. National Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Any Opioid—Number Among All Ages, by Gender, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving any opioid from 1999 to 2018. Any opioid includes prescription opioids (and methadone), heroin and other synthetic narcotics (mainly fentanyl or fentanyl analogs). Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 46,802 deaths. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths by gender from 1999 to 2018 (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 4. National Overdose Deaths Involving Prescription Opioids—Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving prescriptions opioids (including methadone) from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017. From 2017 to 2018, however, the number of deaths dropped to 14,975. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths by gender from 1999 to 2018 (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 5. National Overdose Deaths Involving Heroin, by Other Synthetic Narcotic (Opioid) Involvement, Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving heroin from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths involving heroin rose from 1,960 in 1999 to 15,469 in 2016. Since 2016, the number of deaths has remained steady with 14,996 deaths reported in 2018. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving heroin in combination with or without other synthetic narcotics (mainly fentanyl or fentanyl analogs) from 1999 to 2018. The number of deaths involving heroin in combination with synthetic narcotics has been increasing steadily since 2014 and shows that the increase in deaths involving heroin is driven by the use of fentanyl (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 6. National Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Psychostimulants With Abuse Potential (Including Methamphetamine), by Opioid Involvement, Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths rose from 547 in 1999 to 12,676 in 2018. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving psychostimulants with or without any opioid, and involving psychostimulants with or without other synthetic narcotics. The number of deaths involving psychostimulants has increased steadily since 2014 regardless of opioid involvement (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 7. National Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine, by Opioid Involvement, Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving cocaine from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine rose from 3,822 in 1999 to 13,942 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 14,666. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving cocaine with or without any opioid, and cocaine and other synthetic narcotics. The number of deaths in combination with any opioid has been increasing steadily since 2014 and is mainly driven by the involvement of other synthetic narcotics (mainly fentanyl or fentanyl analogs) (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 8. National Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Benzodiazepines, by Opioid Involvement, Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines rose from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017. Between 2017 and 2018, deaths declined to 10,724.The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving benzodiazepines with or without any opioid, and benzodiazepines and other synthetic narcotics. The number of deaths involving benzodiazepines in combination with other synthetic narcotics has been increasing steadily since 2014, while deaths involving benzodiazepines without any opioids has remained steady (Source: CDC WONDER).

 

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released January, 2020

Figure 9. National Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Antidepressants, by Opioid Involvement–Number Among All Ages, 1999-2018. The figure above is a bar and line graph showing the total number of U.S. overdose deaths involving antidepressants from 1999 to 2018. Drug overdose deaths involving antidepressants has risen steadily from 1,749 in 1999 to 5,269 in 2017. In 2018, deaths remained steady with 5,064. The bars are overlaid by lines showing the number of deaths involving antidepressants with or without any opioid, and antidepressants and other synthetic narcotics (Source: CDC WONDER).

  • The figures above are bar charts showing the number of U.S. overdose deaths involving select prescription and illicit drugs from 1999 through 2018. The bars are overlaid by lines representing gender or concurrent opioid involvement. There were 67,367 drug-involved  overdose deaths reported in the U.S. in 2018 (Figure 1); 67% of cases occurred among males (yellow line). Other synthetic narcotics or opioids (mainly fentanyl or fentanyl analogs) were the main driver of drug overdose deaths with a nearly 12-fold increase from 2012 to 2018 (Figure 2).
  • Drug overdose deaths involving any opioid―prescription opioids (including methadone), other synthetic opioids, and heroin―rose from 18,515 deaths in 2007 to 47,600 deaths in 2017; before declining to 46,802 in 2018. More than 68% of deaths occurred among males (Figure 3). From 2017 to 2018, the number of deaths involving prescription opioids declined to 14,975 (Figure 4).
  • Overdose deaths involving heroin decreased from 15,482 deaths in 2017 to 14,996 in 2018 (Figure 5).
  • From 2015 to 2018, the number of deaths involving psychostimulants (mainly methamphetamine, Figure 6) or cocaine (Figure 7) have risen significantly to a respective 12,676 and 14,666 deaths.
  • The final two charts show the number of overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines (Figure 8) or antidepressants (Figure 9). Benzodiazepines were involved in 10,734 deaths in 2018—a decrease from the 11,537 deaths in 2017. These were driven by the combination of these prescription drugs with any opioid. Deaths involving antidepressants are also rising, although at a much slower rate than benzodiazepines. As is the case with benzodiazepines, deaths involving antidepressants are mainly driven by those also involving synthetic opioids.

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NIDA for Teens: Drug Overdoses in Youth