More People Died from Drug Overdoses in 2015 than From Guns, Car Accidents, or Suicide
The number of overdose deaths from marijuana? Still zero.
Published on March 7, 2017

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more people died from drug overdoses in 2015 than did from suicides, car accidents, or firearms. The rate of overdose deaths has more than doubled since 1999, increasing across all gender and age groups.

In 2015, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths was 16.3 per 100,000, which was more than 2.5 times the rate in 1999 (6.1). Drug overdose deaths for Hispanic people increased by 43% between 1999 and 2015, and the overdose rate for non-Hispanic blacks increased by 63%. The overdose rate for non-Hispanic whites, however, was 240% greater in 2015 than 1999.

Fatal overdoses increased for all age groups, but the greatest increase since 1999 was among adults aged 55 to 64. However, the largest number of overdose deaths in 2015 occurred among those aged 45 to 54. Researchers also discovered that the four states with the highest age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2015 were West Virginia (41.5 per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3), Kentucky (29.9), and Ohio (29.9).

73% of overdose deaths in 2015 were caused by opioids. The total number of overdose deaths caused by heroin tripled from 8% in 2010 to 25% in 2015, and the rate of overdose deaths for synthetic opiates like fentanyl also increased from 8% in 2010 to 18%. Deaths caused by opioid analgesics like oxycodone decreased by 5%, and deaths caused by methadone decreased by half. Out of the minority of non-opiate-related overdose deaths, 13% were caused by cocaine, and 11% by psychostimulants such as methamphetamine or MDMA. 

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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