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California Opioid Summary

Revised March 2018

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

In 2016, there were 2,012 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in California—a rate of 4.9 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. While the overall rate has remained the same since 2012, the number of heroin and synthetic opioid-related deaths has increased from 362 to 587 and from 146 to 355 deaths, respectively.

This graph shows the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in California compared to the United States from 1999-2016. In 2016, the opioid overdose death rate was 4.9 deaths per 100,000 persons in California, versus 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in the United States.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2013, California providers wrote 54.9 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons (approximately 21 million prescriptions). In the same year, the average U.S. rate was 79.3. Since then, opioid prescriptions in the United States have declined, with a nearly 12.8 percent decline in California from 2013 to 2015, resulting in an estimated 47.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (18.7 million prescriptions) in 2015 (IMS Health, 2016).  

This graph shows the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in California from 1999-2016. In 2016, there were 2,012 opioid-related overdose deaths: 355 involved synthetic opioids, 587 involved heroin, and 1172 involved prescription opioids. Categories are not mutually exclusive because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

The incidence of NAS in California has remained level from 1.2 per 1,000 births in 1999 to 1.3 per 1,000 births in 2011 (CDC, MMWR, 2014). The average across the 28 states included in the 2013 analysis was 6.0 per 1,000 births (CDC, MMWR, 2014).

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, 9.1 percent (3,5941) of the 39,513 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 8.2 percent (2,6141) of cases among men and 13.2 percent (980) of cases among women were transmitted via IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2014, 955,081 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 299.5 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 18.1 percent (131,0561) of males and 22.6 percent (52,013) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2015, 4,720 occurred in California, with 7.6 percent 1 of new cases in males and 16.7 percent of new cases in females attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2014, an estimated 119,589 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection  in California—a rate of 371 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 14.4 percent1 of males and 24.3 percent of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, there were 181,871 reported cases of chronic HCV and 33,900 estimated cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Where data were available, 64.2 percent of acute cases reported IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with HCV, including approximately 2.7 million living with chronic infections (CDC).
  • State Incidence: In 2015, California reported 33,748 cases of chronic HCV (CA.gov) and 59 cases of acute HCV (CDC) at rates of 86.4 per 100,000 persons and 0.2 per 100,000 persons, respectively.
  • State Prevalence: Current state prevalence data are not available. As of 2010, an estimated 629,600 (2,250 per 100,000) persons were living with HCV in California (HepVu).

Additional Resources

NIH RePORTERFY2017 NIH-funded projects related to opioid use and use disorder in California: 50

Notes

  1. Includes transmission to individuals with injection drug use as a risk factor.
  2. 2015 estimate after adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting. Data for 2015 were unavailable for Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

This page was last updated March 2018

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