STATCAST - Week of April 15, 2019

Monthly Estimates on Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States


On April 17, NCHS released its latest monthly estimates on drug overdose deaths in the United States. This monthly estimate is based on provisional data from the period October 2017 to September 2018 and represents the most up-to-date national estimates on this public health crisis.

For this 12-month period ending in September 2018, NCHS estimates that 69,894 Americans died of drug overdoses, which is lower than the number predicted last month for the one-year period ending in August 2018. An estimated 48,216 of these estimated deaths through September 2018 involved opioids, with 31,987 involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids (excluding methadone), the fastest rising category of opioid deaths. There were also an estimated 15,415 deaths from heroin overdoses during this period, which suggests that over 98% of opioid deaths were due to either heroin or fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

While opioids account for nearly 7 in 10 drug overdose deaths, this latest provisional data release also estimates that 15,558 Americans died from cocaine and another 12,536 succumbed to overdoses from “pyschostimulants with abuse potential,” such as methamphetamine.

Provisional drug overdose death counts are based on death records received and processed by NCHS from state vital registration offices through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program.

Provisional drug overdose death data are often incomplete, and the degree of completeness varies by jurisdiction and 12-month ending period. Consequently, these reported numbers of drug overdose deaths are underestimated based on provisional data relative to final data and are subject to random variation.


Page last reviewed: April 18, 2019