On January 4, 2019, the CDC published its report titled “Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2013–2017.” Here are the key takeaways.
#1 Prescription opioid deaths stabilized from 2016 to 2017.
Drug overdose deaths have steadily risen across the past five years from 44,000 to over 70,000 in 2017. Opioid-specific deaths have also steadily increased during this period with 47,600 fatalities in 2017 driven by fentanyl use as seen in the data from November, 2018.
#2 Men continue to have over twice as many opioid-related deaths compared to women.
#3 Most prescription opioid-related overdose deaths occur with older adults.
Broken out by age group, the data reveals most drug and opioid overdose deaths occurred among young adults in the 25-34 age group driven by fentanyl and other illicit synthetics. While prescription opioids are the culprit for older adults, responsible for 49% of all opioid deaths in adults ages 45-64 and 61% of in seniors age 65 and above.
#4 Opioid overdose deaths by far continue to mostly occur among white, non-hispanic populations in the US.
78% of people who died from opioid-related overdoses were non-hispanic and white.
#5 Opioid overdose fatalities are concentrated in large metro areas.
61% are within the central or fringe areas of large metropolises.
#6 West Virginia continues to have a significantly higher overdose death rate per 100,000 population on all fronts.
At 49.6 in 2017, West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate per 100,000 people is considerably higher than the average. Not a surprise since its 57.8 overall drug overdose death rate was also considerably higher than the average.
There are interesting shifts to note in the sub-segment of prescription opioid overdose deaths, e.g., Maryland moves up to second place and Utah to third.
The report hints that the 2018 provisional data shows improvements on several drug overdose death indicators. We’ll have to wait and see.
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