Regional Differences in the Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2017

NCHS report describes regional differences in the specific drugs most frequently involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017.  Data from the 2017 National Vital Statistics System–Mortality files were linked to electronic files containing literal text information from death certificates.

Key Findings: 

  • Among drug overdose deaths in 2017 that mentioned at least 1 specific drug on the death certificate, the 10 drugs most frequently involved included fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, alprazolam, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, and diphenhydramine.
  • Regionally, 6 drugs (alprazolam, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, methadone, and oxycodone) were found among the 10 most frequently involved drugs in all 10 HHS regions, although the relative ranking varied by region.
  • Age-adjusted rates of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl or deaths involving cocaine were higher in the regions east of the Mississippi River, while age-adjusted rates for drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine were higher in the West.
  • The regional patterns observed did not change after adjustment for differences in the specificity of drug reporting.

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