Blog & News
State Health Compare Updated to Include 2017 Opioid-Related Overdose Data and New Data on Overdose Deaths from Other DrugsJanuary 18, 2019:
SHADAC has recently updated our State Health Compare estimates on opioid-related drug overdose deaths to include data from 2017. Data on this measure, which examines natural and semi-synthetic opioids, synthetic opioids, and heroin, are now available for years 1999 to 2017.
We have also added new data on drug overdose deaths associated with cocaine and psychostimulants (e.g., methamphetamine), which have increased in recent years — an increase that evidence suggests may be related to the growing opioid crisis.
Users are able to view estimates for all available data years and for all five drug types at both the national and state level.
Highlights: National Trends, 1999-2017
At the national level, the opioid overdose epidemic has borne out and evolved over multiple phases since 1999. From 1999 through 2014, natural and semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., prescription painkillers) had the highest death rate among opioids. In 2015, heroin overtook prescription painkillers for a brief period with the highest death rate among opioids. But by 2016, deaths from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, became the foremost cause of opioid-related overdose death rates nationwide, a trend that continued in 2017.
Among overdose deaths associated with non-opioids, cocaine-related deaths have consistently exceeded those of psychostimulants at the national level since 1999, although the two overdose categories began increasing in tandem around 2013 and have continued upward since then. However, death rates from cocaine and psychostimulants have remained below opioid-related death rates since 2013.
- Death rates from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., prescription painkillers) have more than quadrupled, from 1.0 per 100,000 people to 4.4 per 100,000 people in 2017.
- Death rates from synthetic opioids have grown thirty-fold, from 0.3 per 100,000 people to 9.0 per 100,000 people in 2017.
- Death rates from heroin have grown seven-fold from 0.7 per 100,000 people to 4.9 per 100,000 people in 2017.
- Death rates from cocaine have more than tripled, from 1.4 per 100,000 people to 4.3 per 100,000 people in 2017.
- Death rates from psychostimulants have grown by a factor of sixteen, from 0.2 per 100,000 people to 3.2 per 100,000 people in 2017.
Highlights: Regional and State Estimates, 2017
At the state level, both the levels of death rates and the types of drug which were the dominant causes of death varied widely in 2017. For example:
- West Virginia’s rate of deaths from synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl) in 2017, at 37.4 per 100,000 people, was the highest in the country and more than 30 times the rates of states such as Nebraska and Texas (1.2 per 100,000 people).
- Utah had the second-highest rates of deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids in 2017, at 10.0 deaths per 100,000 people; however, compared to the U.S. trend, the state has experienced relatively little growth in deaths from synthetic opioids.
- Death rates from cocaine, heroin, and synthetic opioids in 2017 were generally higher east of the Mississippi River, particularly among states in the Northeast, Appalachian region, and the industrial Midwest.
- The western U.S. and the Southeast, along with the Appalachian region, had higher rates of overdose deaths in 2017 for psychostimulants compared with the Northeast.
State variations in overdose death rates have prompted a recent shift in focus for both data analysis and public health intervention to the state level.
Further Reading and Resources