Fatal Drug Overdoses Quadrupled From 1999 to 2020

Highest rate increases seen in White and Native American or Alaskan Native individuals and in the Midwest and nonmetro areas
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TUESDAY, Sept. 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Drug overdose deaths increased 4.3-fold in the United States from 1999 to 2020, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in the American Journal of Medicine.

Tarek Ghaddar, M.P.H., from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and colleagues used the Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research and Multiple Cause of Death files to explore trends in U.S. drug overdose mortality overall and by age, gender, race, urbanization, and geography (1999 to 2020).

The researchers found that during the study period, drug overdoses caused 1.01 million deaths and a 4.3-fold increase in mortality rate ratios. Rates varied by gender (4.5 for men and 4.0 for women), race (4.6 for White, 3.9 for Black or African American, 4.0 for Asian or Pacific Islanders, and 5.1 for Native Americans or Alaskan Natives), age (5.6 in 25- to 34-year-olds, 1.1 in 75- to 84-year-olds, and 0.77 in those aged 85 years and older), geography (highest was 6.0 in Midwest and lowest was 2.6 in West), and urbanization (highest was 6.2 in nonmetro areas and lowest was 3.7 in metro areas).

"To reduce risks of overdose, addiction care should be integrated into the practice of all health care providers regardless of specialty, and training in this area should be further incorporated into medical education," coauthor Allison Ferris, M.D., also from Florida Atlantic University, said in a statement.

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