Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH
The number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1999 — from 6.1 to 16 per 100,000 population. Specifically, recent increases have been seen in deaths from heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to new CDC data.
In 2015, the most recent year data was available, people aged 45 to 54 had the highest rate of overdose death (30 per 100,000), but the greatest percentage increase occurred in those aged 55 to 64, with an annual increase of 11%.
West Virginia (42 per 100,000), New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio had the highest overdose death rates. By race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic whites led (21 per 100,000).
In 2015, a quarter of overdose deaths were due to heroin — this proportion has tripled since 2010. The proportion of deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone (e.g., fentanyl, tramadol) increased from 8% to 18% in 5 years. The proportion of deaths from overdoses of natural and semisynthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone actually dropped from 29% to 24%.