Fentanyl Facts

Posted: October 20th, 2022

Drug Overdose Death Rates

Drug overdose deaths are up 30% year-over-year

Key Findings

  • 96k+ - Over 96,700 people die from drug overdoses in a year
  • 72% - Opioids are a factor in 7 out of every 10 overdose deaths
  • 1 Million - Drug overdoses have killed almost a million people since 1999
Recent Drug Overdose Deaths

More than four (4) times as many people died from drug overdose (OD) than from homicide in the first month of 2021.

  • 96,779 drug overdose deaths were reported from March 2020 to March 2021.
  • OD death totals during this period are 36.1% higher than the previous annual high from December 2018 to December 2019 (71,130 deaths)
  • Preliminary reports indicate the number of drug overdose deaths in America increased 29.6% in 2020
  • In January 2021, drug overdose deaths exceeded homicides by 306.7%
  • Motor vehicle accidents and suicides combined killed 84.5 0% as many as ODs.

Total Annual Overdose Deaths by State

Deadliest Drugs

Drugs Used in OD (Overdose)





*This care includes attributable deaths for each drug; some deaths involve multiple drug types, and percentage totals will exceed 100%.

 % of Total Death*





Drug Overdose Death Rates

Overdose death counts can be deceptive. Just as drug-related deaths aren’t always recorded as overdoses, some overdoses involve multiple drug types.

    • The national OD rate is 21.6 deaths per 100,000 residents.
    • Among youth and young adults aged 15 to 24 years, the average annual OD death rate is 12.6 out of every 100,000.
    • The OD death rate among this same age group is 41.9% lower than the national average death rate.
    •  Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from drug overdose.

graph with historical trends in opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 residents

  • Women are dying from drug overdoses at a slightly faster annual rate.
  • Among 25- to 34-year-olds, the male OD death rate exceeds the women's by 146.8%.
  • Opioids are the deadliest drug type; at least one type of opioid is a factor in 71.76% of ODs.
  • Opioids kill more than three (3) times as many people as cocaine.
  • OD deaths rank just below diabetes in terms of highest death count.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, drug overdose rates fell by 4.6% and for the first time since 2012.

Opioid Overdose Death Rates

The fastest growing drug category among the OD deaths is synthetic opioids. and many opioid deaths involve other drugs.

  • Opioids kill more than 136 Americans every day.
  • The national OD death rate increased 255.74% between 2000 and 2019.
  • 21.5% was the sharpest year-over-year increase, from 2015 to 2016.
  • That same year, the synthetic opioid OD death rate doubled.
  • The rate of OD deaths involving any opioid spiked 27.89% from 2015 to 2016.
  • Heroin OD death rates increase at an average annual rate of 55.7%
  • The rate of OD deaths involving synthetic opioids increased at an annual rate of 580% over five years (2012-2017).

Opioid Subcategories

Natural Opioids - Opium, Morphine, Codeine

Semi-Synthetic Opioids - hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is usually categorized in its own official category

Synthetic Opioids other than methadone, this includes tramadol and fentanyl

Heroin is an illegally manufactured synthetic opioid made from morphine

Overdosed Deaths Among Demographics

Rapid release data is unavailable, and demographics likely shifted during the recent pandemic

  • Among males, OD deaths have increased at an annual growth rate of 14.16%.
  • Among females, OD deaths have increased at an annual growth rate of 14.96%
  • Among women, American Indian and Alaska Natives are the most likely to die from an OD.
  • Among men, Black or African Americans are the most likely to die from an OD.
  • Among both genders, Asian and Pacific Islanders are the least likely to die due to OD.
  • Men aged 25 to 34 years old are the most likely among all age groups to die from an OD.
  • Among men in that age group, the OD death rate is 146.82% higher than women in the same age group.
  • Among women, overdose deaths are most common among 45- to 54-year-olds.
  • Among that age group, men are still 75.64%.


State Drug Overdose Statistics

There is a wide range of overdose death rates among the states; the highest concentration is located in the Northeast, straddling the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. 

  •  Maryland sees the greatest overdose death rate among all deaths, with 4.68% of annual deaths attributed to drug overdose.
  • California has the highest number of drug overdose deaths at 6,198.
  • West Virginia has more drug overdose deaths per capita than any other state (52.8 out of every 100,000 residents).
  • Nebraska sees the lowest rate of overdose deaths at 0.95%, with 8.7 deaths out of every 100,000 residents.
  • Wyoming has the lowest number of overdose deaths at 79.
  • Oklahoma has seen the largest 3-year decrease at an 8.05% annual decline.
  • Delaware has seen the largest 3-year increase at an annual growth rate of 16.0%.

*Rate of OD deaths among all deaths of all types

Overdose Deaths per 100,000 residents