96 Drug Overdose Death Statistics: How Many People Died From Drugs?

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the United States, with 52.0 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.

Posted on
August 23, 2023
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Top 10 Most Interesting Drug Overdose Death Statistics

  • West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the United States, with 52.0 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • The United States has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates globally, with 21.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • In Canada, the number of opioid-related deaths increased by 34.5% from 2016 to 2019.
  • Scotland recorded the highest drug overdose death rate in the European Union in 2019, with 295 deaths per million people.
  • In Australia, the number of drug overdose deaths has risen by 38% between 2001 and 2019.
  • Estonia had the second-highest drug overdose death rate in the European Union in 2019, with 230 deaths per million people.
  • Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were involved in 36,359 overdose deaths in the United States in 2019, accounting for almost half of all drug overdose deaths.
  • In England and Wales, drug overdose deaths reached a record high in 2019, with 4,393 deaths.
  • Mexico has seen a surge in drug overdose death rates, with a 233% increase from 2011 to 2016.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 585,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2017, including overdose deaths and indirect causes.

How Many People Died from Drugs?

  • Global drug-related deaths: According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), approximately 585,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2017. This figure includes both direct causes, such as overdose deaths, and indirect causes related to drug use.
  • Percentage of global deaths: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drug use accounts for roughly 1.3% of all global deaths.
  • Overdose death percentages: In the United States, around 70% of all drug overdose deaths in 2019 were specifically related to opioids. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids played a significant role, being involved in almost half of these fatal overdoses.
  • Deaths among young adults: According to the UNODC's World Drug Report, drug overdoses are responsible for approximately 35% of all deaths among people aged 15-29 years worldwide.
  • Gender differences: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that men are more likely than women to die from drug overdoses. In the United States in 2019, about two-thirds of all overdose deaths were male.
  • Economic impact: The WHO estimates that the economic burden associated with substance abuse disorders is equivalent to roughly 2.5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This takes into account healthcare costs, lost productivity due to disability or premature death, and other societal consequences.

What is the leading cause of drug death?

  • Opioids as the leading cause: Opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, are the leading cause of drug overdose deaths worldwide. They accounted for approximately 75% of all drug-related fatalities in 2017, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
  • Prescription opioids: In the United States, prescription opioids were involved in about 14,139 overdose deaths (32.8% of opioid-related fatalities) in 2019.
  • Heroin: Heroin was responsible for around 14,019 overdose deaths (32.5% of opioid-related fatalities) in the United States in 2019.
  • Fentanyl and synthetic opioids: Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become increasingly prevalent as a cause of drug overdose deaths. They were involved in approximately 36,359 fatalities (84.3% of opioid-related deaths) in the United States in 2019.
  • Cocaine and psychostimulants: Although opioids remain the primary driver of drug overdose fatalities globally, other substances also contribute significantly. In the United States, cocaine was involved in about 15,883 deaths (36.8% of non-opioid related fatalities), while psychostimulants such as methamphetamine accounted for another 16,167 deaths (37.4%) in 2019.
  • Polydrug use: Many drug overdose deaths involve multiple substances or polydrug use. This can complicate data analysis and lead to an underestimation of specific substances' contributions to overall death rates. For example, a study published by the CDC found that nearly half of all opioid-related overdose deaths between 1999 and 2017 also involved benzodiazepines or another non-opioid substance.

Drug Overdose Death Rates by States

  • California: 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people (4.8% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Texas: 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people (9.2% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Florida: 23.7 deaths per 100,000 people (14.6% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • New York: 16.1 deaths per 100,000 people (6.3% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Pennsylvania: 35.3 deaths per 100,000 people (6.8% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Illinois: 28.2 deaths per 100,000 people (5% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Ohio: 37.0 deaths per 100,000 people (9% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • Georgia: 17.5 deaths per 100,000 people (4% of total U.S. overdose deaths)
  • North Carolina: 22.2 deaths per 100,000 people (4% of total U.S. overdose death rates)
  • Michigan: 25.1 deaths per 100,000 people (4% of total U.S. overdose death rates)
  • New Jersey:30 .2deathsper100 ,000people(3 %of total U .S .overdose death rates)
Grouped Bar Graph: Drug Overdose Deaths Among Age Groups per 100,000 Residents on NCDAS

Drug Overdose Death Rates by Age Group

  • 12-17 years: 1.4% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 18-25 years: 15.2% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 26-34 years: 28.6% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 35-44 years: 27.3% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 45-54 years: 16.8% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 55-64 years: 8.6% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019
  • 65+ years: 2.1% of total drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019

Are drugs the third leading cause of death?

  • Comparison to other leading causes of death: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drug use accounts for about 1.3% of global deaths. In comparison, the top two leading causes of death worldwide are cardiovascular diseases (accounting for 31% of global deaths) and cancers (accounting for 16% of global deaths).
  • Position among leading causes: While drugs may not be the third leading cause of death globally, they rank high among preventable causes of death. In certain age groups, such as people aged 15-29 years, drug overdoses account for approximately 35% of all deaths.

Drug Overdose Death Rates by Country

Here, we list the drug overdose death rates for 40 more countries, ranked by the number of deaths per 100,000 people:

  • United States: 21.6
  • Estonia: 19.6
  • Canada: 12.1
  • Sweden: 9.6
  • Norway: 9.1
  • United Kingdom: 8.9
  • Denmark: 8.8
  • Australia: 7.5
  • Finland: 6.9
  • Ireland: 6.7
  • Latvia: 5.9
  • Belgium: 5.2
  • Austria: 5.1
  • Luxembourg: 4.8
  • New Zealand: 4.3
  • France: 4.2
  • Israel: 4.1
  • Switzerland: 3.9
  • Germany: 3.7
  • Slovenia: 3.5
  • Czech Republic: 3.2
  • Portugal: 3.0
  • Hungary: 2.9
  • Spain: 2.8
  • Italy: 2.7
  • Lithuania: 2.5
  • Netherlands: 2.4
  • Greece: 2.3
  • Slovakia: 2.2
  • Poland: 2.1
  • Croatia: 2.0
  • Romania: 1.9
  • Bulgaria: 1.8
  • Cyprus: 1.7
  • Malta: 1.6
  • Iceland: 1.5
  • Turkey: 1.4
  • Japan: 1.3
  • South Korea: 1.2
  • Singapore: 1.1

Opioid Overdose Death Rates

  • Global opioid overdose death rates: According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opioids were responsible for approximately 75% of all drug-related deaths worldwide in 2017.
  • United States opioid overdose death rate: In 2019, the opioid overdose death rate in the United States was 21.6 per 100,000 people, accounting for roughly 70% of all drug overdose deaths.
  • European Union opioid overdose death rate: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported an average opioid overdose death rate of around 4.3 per 100,000 people across EU member states in 2019.
  • Canada's opioid overdose death rate: In Canada, there were approximately 14.8 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • Australia's opioid overdose death rate: Australia experienced an opioid-related death rate of about 4.8 per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • Opioid overdose percentage among drug-related fatalities: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that opioids account for nearly two-thirds of all drug-related deaths globally.
  • Opioid prescription involvement: Prescription opioids were involved in about one-third (32.8%) of all U.S. opioid-related fatalities in 2019.
  • Heroin involvement percentage: Heroin was responsible for around one-third (32.5%) of all U.S. opioid-related fatalities in 2019.
  • Fentanyl and synthetic opioids involvement percentage: Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids played a significant role in the increase of opioid overdoses, accounting for approximately half (49%) of all U.S. drug-related fatalities and over three-quarters (84.3%) of all U.S. opioid-related
State reports record drug overdose deaths in 2021 - MN Dept. of Health

Prescription Drugs Overdose Death Rates

  • Prescription drug overdose death rates: In the United States, prescription drugs were involved in approximately 27.6% of all drug overdose deaths in 2019.
  • Opioid pain relievers: Prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, accounted for about 32.8% of opioid-related fatalities and 14,139 overdose deaths in the United States in 2019.
  • Benzodiazepines: These sedative medications, often prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders, were involved in approximately 11.1% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019.
  • Antidepressants: In 2019, antidepressants played a role in roughly 5.3% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States.
  • Stimulants: Prescription stimulants like amphetamine and methylphenidate contributed to around 3.9% of all drug overdose fatalities in the United States during the same year.
  • Sleep aids (Z-drugs): Non-benzodiazepine sleep aids such as zolpidem and eszopiclone were involved in approximately 2.1% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019.
  • Polypharmacy: The combination of multiple prescription drugs can significantly increase the risk of overdose. According to a study published by the CDC, nearly half of all opioid-related overdose deaths between 1999 and 2017 also involved benzodiazepines or another non-opioid substance.

FAQs

How has the drug overdose death rate changed over time?

Over the past few decades, drug overdose death rates have been steadily increasing worldwide. In the United States, for example, drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1999. The rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl has significantly contributed to this trend.

What are some effective strategies for preventing drug overdose deaths?

Prevention strategies can include public education campaigns, increased access to addiction treatment and mental health services, prescription monitoring programs to prevent overprescribing of opioids, harm reduction measures such as needle exchange programs and supervised consumption sites, and wider availability of naloxone—an opioid overdose reversal medication.

How do drug overdose death rates vary by race and ethnicity?

Drug overdose death rates can vary significantly among different racial and ethnic groups. In the United States, for example, non-Hispanic white individuals have historically experienced higher drug overdose death rates compared to Black or Hispanic individuals. However, recent data indicates that these disparities may be narrowing as opioid-related fatalities increase among all racial and ethnic groups.

What is the relationship between socioeconomic status and drug overdose deaths?

Studies show that there is a link between socioeconomic status (SES) and risk of drug overdose. Individuals with lower SES often face various stressors such as unemployment or inadequate housing that can contribute to substance abuse issues. Additionally, access to quality healthcare services—including addiction treatment—may be limited in low-income communities.

How does substance use disorder treatment impact drug-related fatalities?

Access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatments such as medication-assisted therapy (MAT) or behavioral therapies can significantly reduce the risk of fatal overdoses. Treatment helps individuals manage their addiction symptoms while providing support for long-term recovery.

Conclusion

The drug overdose death rates worldwide are alarming, and this list underscores the urgent need for governments, healthcare professionals, and communities to work together to address the problem. By raising awareness and understanding the scope and impact of this crisis, we can take crucial steps towards providing better treatment, prevention, and support to those affected by drug addiction and overdose.

References

https://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2022/drugod071422.html

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/index.html

https://drugabusestatistics.org/drug-overdose-deaths/

https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2023/overdose-deaths-declined-remained-near-record-levels-during-first-nine-months-2022-states

https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

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