The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors the number of drug overdose deaths each year. Data can also show which drugs are most common in drug overdose deaths. These statistics can provide insight into cultural and social trends, helping to prevent drug-related deaths in the future.

A 2018 report by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that drug overdose deaths for some drugs have decreased for the first time in over two decades. In November 2017, there were 70,723 reported drug overdose deaths. A year later, there were 68,024 drug overdose deaths. Overall, the data shows a 5.1% decrease in drug overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018. This decrease may indicate the success of nationwide prevention programs.

The report is not all good news, however. Though there were lower overdose death rates for some drugs, other drugs had higher rates. Drug overdose deaths can fall under the codes that include unintentional death, death by suicide, homicide and undetermined cause. Death by opioid overdose includes the identification of any of these drugs:

  • Heroin
  • Opioids
  • Opium
  • Synthetic opioids
  • Methadone
  • Other narcotics

Whether the drug was the primary cause of death is determined by a number of factors, including drug concentration in the body and other meaningful evidence. Officials are still searching to identify which drugs are primarily responsible for continued drug overdose deaths nationwide. 

Painkiller Overdoses Fall, Most Other Drug Categories Continue to Rise

Prescription pain medication and opioids are not the only categories that are monitored. Even as rates of pain medication overdoses fell, other categories continued an upward trend. Between 2000 and 2013, death by overdose on a pharmaceutical drug rose by 125%. The CDC report also notes that synthetic opioid deaths increased by 45% between 2016 and 2017, but are now decreasing.

Some of the statistics related to opioid abuse and overdose death are complicated by state-specific classification systems. A December 2018 press release from the CDC reported that:

  • The rate of drug overdose deaths did increase 10% between 2016 and 2017
  • Cocaine overdose deaths increased by over 34%
  • Overdose death by psychostimulants increased by over 33%
  • Opioid deaths did increase for certain demographic groups, including African-Americans (25.2%) and people over the age of 65 (17%).

Nationwide, each state has instituted new policies that range from prescription guidelines to community education and prevention services. Access to treatment has never been easier, and information is being provided to communities in greater volume than ever before. It is possible that these efforts are resulting in decreased opioid overdose deaths. However, it is clear that more ground needs to be covered to ensure each person has access to the right prevention services and recovery programs.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options and programs that can work well for your specific situation.