The National Center for Health Statistics at CDC released the final data for 2017 drug overdose death rates. 192 people died each day on average in 2017 from an overdose including 130 from opioids. Here are 6 takeaways.
#1 Drug overdose deaths have increased 60% in the past five years between 2013 – 2017.
Drug overdose deaths have steadily risen across the past five years from 44,000 to over 70,000 in 2017. That is an increase of 60%.
With increased efforts to curb the opioid epidemic it is hoped that overdose death rates will taper off – the increase between 2016 to 2017 was 10% compared to the spike of 21% for 2015 to 2016.
And, we are now seeing over 21 to 22 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, up from 14 in 2013.
#2 Young adults group had most deaths reported.
Broken out by age group, the data reveals most drug overdose deaths occurred among young adults in the 25-34 age group.
This was not always the case. Since 2013, the peak of the distribution has shifted down to young adults from the older age groups.
In 2013, the 25-34 age group accounted for 20% of overall deaths. In 2017, this group was 25% of overall overdose deaths.
#3 Opioids of any kind were responsible for 68% of total overdose deaths in 2017.
Five years ago, in 2013, opioids accounted for 57% of the overall count. The total number of people who died from any kind of opioid overdose in 2017 was 47,600.
#4 Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were responsible for 60% of opioid-related deaths in 2017.
Fentanyl, its analogs, and other synthetic opioids such as tramadol were responsible for 41% of overall drug overdose fatalities in 2017 with 28,466 deaths.
In contrast, in 2013, fentanyl and synthetic opioids accounted for just 12% of opioid-related deaths. Back then, morphine and oxycodone among other natural and semi-synthetic prescription opioids were the biggest culprit.
#5 At the state level, Pennsylvania had the highest number of drug overdose deaths.
Pennsylvania experienced 5,388 overdose fatalities in 2017 with Ohio and Florida being the other states with counts above 5,000. Twelve states had overdose death counts above 2,000.
#6 West Virginia continues to have a significantly higher overdose death rate per 100,000 population.
At 57.8 in 2017, West Viriginia’s rate per 100,000 people continues to be considerably higher than the average. Ohio is second at 46.3. Twelve states and the District of Columbia had rates above 30 drug overdose deaths per 100,000.
With the recent legislation that received near unanimous bipartisan support in Congress that was then signed into law by the President last month, key initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic now have funding. In particular, increasing the availability of Naloxone, increasing access to medication assisted treatment and support services, and increased awareness and education to further remove barriers of stigma and to reaffirm the sense that “I am not alone” in this will go a long way. Let’s hope that the numbers will show a flattening out and then start to decrease in the near future.
IANA Health seeks to be that easy, one-stop online resource to access opioid and other substance abuse and addiction information, clinicians, and support groups. https://ianahealth.com.