Understanding Drug Overdoses and Deaths

The drug overdose epidemic continues to worsen in the United States.

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Drug overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal, continue to impact our nation.

Overdose deaths remain a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. The majority of overdose deaths involve opioids. Deaths involving synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) and stimulants (such as cocaine and methamphetamine) have increased in recent years. In addition, overdose deaths accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For every drug overdose that results in death, there are many more nonfatal overdoses, each one with its own emotional and economic toll. This fast-moving epidemic does not distinguish among age, sex, or state or county lines. People who have had at least one overdose are more likely to have another. If a person who has had an overdose is seen in the ED, there is an opportunity to help prevent a repeat overdose by linking an individual to care that can improve their health outcomes.

Timely data help improve coordination and promote readiness among health departments, community members, healthcare providers, public health, law enforcement, and government agencies, for regional or multiple state overdose increases.

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