Drug overdose deaths have been rising over the past two decades in the United States, according to an analysis of the most recent data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS).
Statistics on deaths from a drug overdose in the United States show that in 2021, 106,699 drug overdose deaths occurred, resulting in an age-adjusted rate of 32.4 per 100,000 population.
Drug overdose deaths have risen fivefold over the past two decades, a period in which there’s also been a steady increase in the number of suicides.
The suicide rate of about 35% over the last 20 years.
Among the total population, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased from 6.8 in 2001 to 11.5 in 2006, was stable from 2006 through 2013, then increased from 13.8 in 2013 to 32.4 in 2021; from 2020 through 2021, the rate increased 14%, from 28.3 to 32.4.
From 2020 through 2021, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths for males increased 14% from 39.5 to 45.1, and the rate for females increased 15% from 17.1 to 19.6.
For each year from 2001 through 2021, the rate for males was higher than for females.
Adults aged 65 and over had the largest percentage increase in rates from 2020 through 2021.
Drug overdose death rates increased for each race and Hispanic-origin group except non-Hispanic Asian people between 2020 and 2021.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 22%, while the rate of deaths involving heroin declined 32% between 2020 and 2021.
From 2020 through 2021, the rate of drug overdose deaths increased for deaths involving cocaine and those involving psychostimulants with abuse potential.
Significant increases occurred from 2001 through 2006, with stability setting in from 2006 through 2013, the trend has again been increasing since 2013.
Rates of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol, have increased over the past decade.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine in 2021 was 22% higher than the rate in 2020 and nearly six times greater than it was in 2001, rising in that time span from 1.3 fatalities per 100,000 population during the first year of the new millennium to 7.3.
Deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, which includes drugs such as methamphetamine, amphetamine, and methylphenidate, increased from 0.2 in 2001 to 10.0 in 2021, when the rate was 33% higher than it was a year earlier.