Heroin Overdose Data

Nearly 143,000 people died from overdoses involving heroin from 1999-2020

In 2020, heroin-involved overdose death rates decreased nearly 7% from 2019 to 2020. However, more than 13,000 people died from a drug overdose involving heroin in the United States, a rate of more than four deaths for every 100,000 Americans.  The number of heroin-involved overdose deaths was nearly seven times higher in 2020 than in 1999. Nearly 20% of all opioid deaths involved heroin.1

Heroin Overdose Urbanicity

The figures below show the changes in age-adjusted death rates involving heroin by urbanization classification of residence from year to year.

  • Large central metro—Counties in metropolitan statistical areas of 1 million or more population that:
    • Contain the entire population of the largest principal city
    • Have their entire population contained in the largest principal city
    • Contain at least 250,000 inhabitants of any principal city
  • Large fringe metro—Counties of 1 million or more population that did not qualify as large central metro counties.
  • Medium metro—Counties of populations of 250,000 to 999,999.
  • Small metro—Counties of populations less than 250,000.
  • Micropolitan—Counties in micropolitan statistical areas that have a population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000.
  • Noncore—Nonmetropolitan counties that did not qualify as micropolitan.

Categories of 2013 NCHS Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties

2018 heroin overdose dot plot
chart showing Heroin overdose death rate 2016 to 2017

Heroin Overdose Death Rates.  Age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 population for heroin from 2014 to 2015, by census region of residence. Northeast*: 3,461 deaths in 2015. 5.1 in 2014, 6.3 in 2015. Midwest*: 3,959 deaths in 2015, 2.4 in 2014, 3.2 in 2015. South*: 3,722 deaths in 2015, 2.4 in 2014, 3.2 in 2015. West*: 1,847 deaths in 2015, 2.2 in 2014, 2.4 in 2015. United States*: 12,989 deaths in 2015, 3.4 in 2014, 4.1 in 2015. SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality. CDC WONDER, Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2016. https://wonder.cdc.gov/. *Statistically significant at p<0.05 level.


  1. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2021. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
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