CDC Reports U.S. Overall Drug Overdose Death Rate Down, But Opioid Overdose Death Rate Up by 10% in 2018

The age-adjusted rate of U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2018 was 4.6% lower than the rate in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

New data from the National Vital Statistics System also show there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2018, 4.1% fewer than the 70,237 deaths reported in 2017.

Despite the decline in overall drug overdose deaths, there was a 10% increase in the rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as fentanyl, in 2018 compared with 2017.

Furthermore, the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving cocaine more than tripled from 2012 through 2018, while the rate of deaths involving certain psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased nearly five-fold.

The CDC also reported the decrease in life expectancy between 2014 and 2017 was driven mostly by increases in mortality due to deaths from unintentional injuries, suicide, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Improvements in life expectancy between 2017 and 2018, meanwhile, were driven by decreases in  mortality from cancer, unintentional injuries, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. The positive contributions to the change in life expectancy were offset, in part, by the rising number of deaths by suicide, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis.

Unintentional injuries and suicide remain in the top ten leading cause of death in the United States.