NCHS Data Brief 166

Drug-poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics:
United States, 1999–2011

Key findings

  • The age-adjusted rate for opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths nearly quadrupled from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.4 per 100,000 in 2011.
  • Although the opioid-analgesic poisoning death rates increased each year from 1999 through 2011, the rate of increase has slowed since 2006.
  • Natural and semisynthetic opioid analgesics, such as hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, were involved in 11,693 drug-poisoning deaths in 2011, up from 2,749 deaths in 1999.
  • Benzodiazepines were involved in 31% of the opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths in 2011, up from 13% of the opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths in 1999.
  • During the past decade, adults aged 55–64 and non-Hispanic white persons experienced the greatest increase in the rates of opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths.