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Vital Signs: Characteristics of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids and Stimulants — 24 States and the District of Columbia, January–June 2019
  • Published Date:

    September 04 2020

  • Source:
    MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 69(35):1189-1197
  • Language:
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  • Alternative Title:
    MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
  • Description:
    Introduction Provisional estimates indicate that drug overdose deaths increased in 2019 after a slight decrease in 2018. In 2018, overdose deaths primarily involved opioids, with continued increases in deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs). Deaths involving stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are also increasing, mainly in combination with opioids. Methods CDC analyzed data on drug overdose deaths during January–June 2019 from 24 states and the District of Columbia (DC) in the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System to describe characteristics and circumstances of opioid- and stimulant-involved overdose deaths. Results Among 16,236 drug overdose deaths in 24 states and DC, 7,936 (48.9%) involved opioids without stimulants, 5,301 (32.6%) involved opioids and stimulants, 2,056 (12.7%) involved stimulants without opioids, and 943 (5.8%) involved neither opioids nor stimulants. Approximately 80% of overdose deaths involved one or more opioid, and IMFs were involved in three of four opioid-involved overdose deaths. IMFs, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine (alone or in combination) were involved in 83.8% of overdose deaths. More than three in five (62.7%) overdose deaths had documentation of at least one potential opportunity for overdose prevention intervention. Conclusions and implications for public health practice Identifying opportunities to intervene before an overdose death and implementing evidence-based prevention policies, programs, and practices could save lives. Strategies should address characteristics of overdoses involving IMFs, such as rapid overdose progression, as well as opioid and stimulant co-involvement. These efforts should be complemented by efforts to prevent initiation of prescription opioid and stimulant misuse and illicit drug use.
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