National Vital Statistics System

Drug Overdose Deaths

Monitoring deaths from drug overdose helps us understand the epidemic’s impact on the U.S. population and tell us how the crisis is evolving – for better or worse.

The National Vital Statistics System collects and shares critical information on deaths from drug overdoses, such as what substances were used and where deaths are happening in America.

Understanding Drug Death Data

Our systems receive and analyze data from death certificates, including cause-of-death information reported by medical examiners and coroners. Because drug overdose deaths often require lengthy investigations, data are updated as new information is received.

Information about which drugs were involved in a death comes from the literal text description of the cause of death, which is written on the death certificate by the medical certifier. The cause-of-death literal text is coded to ICD-10 codes for reporting or can be analyzed directly. Drug overdose deaths involving multiple drugs may be included in more than one category in our reporting.

Recent efforts to modernize the nation’s vital statistics system have led to significant improvements in the timeliness and quality of drug overdose death data. These projects are ongoing at the national level and with our state and local partners.

Data for Surveillance
GettyImages-1137594446-466x258

As part of national surveillance efforts, our Vital Statistics Rapid Release program provides provisional estimates that help monitor the epidemic more closely.

Learn the difference between provisional and final data

Publications
Find Our Data

Data Releases

Provisional Estimates (Vital Statistics Rapid Release)

  • VSRR Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts
    Provisional (preliminary) estimates for drug overdose deaths based on a current flow of mortality data. Counts for the most recent final annual data are provided for comparison.

Online Databases: Mortality

Tabulated Data

Page last reviewed: July 14, 2021