U.S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020 – But Are Still Up 15%

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2022

Contact: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Communication (301) 458-4800
E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020. The 2021 increase was half of what it was a year ago, when overdose deaths rose 30% from 2019 to 2020.

The data is featured in an interactive web data visualization. The 2021 data presented in this visualization are provisional – they are incomplete and subject to change.

The new data show overdose deaths involving opioids increased from an estimated 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl), psychostimulants such as methamphetamine, and cocaine also continued to increase in 2021 compared to 2020.

The biggest percentage increase in overdose deaths in 2021 occurred in Alaska, where deaths were up 75.3%, while overdose deaths in Wyoming did not increase at all in 2021 and deaths in Hawaii declined 1.8% from the same point in 2020. The visualization includes:

  • Reported and predicted (estimated) provisional counts of deaths due to drug overdose occurring nationally and in each jurisdiction.
  • U.S. map of the percentage changes in provisional drug overdose deaths for the 12-month period ending in December 2021 compared with the 12-month period ending in December 2020, by jurisdiction.
  • Reported and predicted provisional counts of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs or drug classes occurring nationally and in selected jurisdictions.

NCHS releases both reported and predicted provisional drug overdose death counts each month. They represent the numbers of these deaths due to drug overdose occurring in the 12-month periods ending in the month indicated. These counts include all seasons of the year and are insensitive to variations by seasonality. Deaths are reported by the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.