America’s Drug Overdose Epidemic: Putting Data to Action

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Drug Overdoses in the United States


The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States introduces new risks to Americans impacted by substance use disorder, as well as a series of new challenges related to treatment and recovery.

Drug overdose deaths continue to impact communities across the United States. Drug overdose deaths are still high:

  • From 1999 to 2019, nearly 841,000 people died from a drug overdose.
  • In 2019, nearly 71,000 people died from drug overdoses.
  • It was a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.
  • Over 70% of overdose deaths involved an opioid like prescription opioids, heroin, or synthetic opioids (like fentanyl).

CDC’s Work to Address the Opioid Crisis


CDC is committed to preventing opioid misuse, overdoses, and deaths through five key strategies:

Learn more about CDC’s prevention strategies: CDC’s Response to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic.

Building State, Local, and Tribal Capacity


CDC launched the multiyear Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) cooperative agreement in September 2019. OD2A supports recipients in collecting in-depth data on drug overdoses, and to use those data to inform prevention and public health response efforts. Funded recipients include state, territorial, county, and city health departments. OD2A builds on the successes of previous programs, and as it moves into another year of funding, it continues to address the evolving drug crisis.

Infographic for preventing overdose deaths


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As part of OD2A, 66 recipients will work on strategies that focus on data collection and implementation of prevention programs. To learn more about OD2A, visit CDC’s State Information page.

Not all overdoses have to end in death. Everyone has a role to play.

  • Learn about the risks of opioids.
  • Learn about naloxone, its availability, and how to use it.
  • Help people struggling with opioid use disorder to find the right care and treatment.

Learn more about recognizing and reversing overdoses on CDC’s Overdose Prevention webpage.