Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the final data on drug overdose deaths for 2019 in the United States. The report showed an overall increase in drug-related poisonings, primarily associated with increased fentanyl, stimulants including methamphetamine and cocaine, and poly-drug involvement. The data also showed a continued decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths involving heroin as well as natural and semi-synthetic opioids, which mostly includes FDA-approved drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine; overdoses involving specific prescription opioids like these declined five percent in 2019 as compared to 2018. It warrants noting that this category previously declined by more than 13 percent from 2017 to 2018. This cumulative decrease — and now downward trend — is substantial and encouraging.
“Last year’s drug mortality data makes it clear: innovations in illicit substance combinations, and a stark spike in the amount of lethal methamphetamine smuggled into the United States from Mexico, took a heartbreaking toll on the United States in 2019,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll stated. “Almost all of the illegal drugs killing people and shattering families are coming from outside of the United States. It is apparent that continued vigilance at our Nation’s Borders is necessary to keep illicit substances off of American soil and out of our communities. Yet within the grim overall numbers, there are rays of hope: opioid-related deaths involving opioid analgesics excluding fentanyl continue to fall year-over-year since President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017. By taking the whole-of-government approach championed by the Trump Administration to address the opioid crisis, and applying it to the scourge of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and other deadly synthetics, we can begin to turn the tide and ensure fewer American lives are lost, and those suffering from substance use disorder are connected with treatment and hope.”
The CDC’s annual release of mortality data is sourced from the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research (WONDER) database. WONDER makes many health-related data sets available to CDC staff, public health departments, researchers, and others. These data help with public health research, decision making, priority setting, program evaluation, and resource allocation.