Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and so have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Statistically significant changes in drug overdose death* rates involving natural and semisynthetic opioids by select states,†† United States, 2014 to 2015.

Note: Rate comparisons between states should not be made due to variations in reporting across states.

* Deaths are classified using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD–10). Drug overdose deaths are identified using underlying cause-of-death codes X40–X44, X60–X64, X85, and Y10–Y14.  Rates shown are for the number of deaths per 100,000 population. Age-adjusted death rates were calculated using the direct method and the 2000 standard population.
† Drug overdose deaths, as defined, that have natural and semi-synthetic opioids (T40.2) as contributing causes.
§ Drug overdose deaths, as defined, that have methadone (T40.3) as a contributing cause.
¶ Categories of deaths are not exclusive as deaths may involve more than one drug. Summing of categories will result in greater than the total number of deaths in a year.
†† Analyses were limited to states meeting the following criteria: For states with very good to excellent reporting, ≥90% of drug overdose deaths mention at least one specific drug in 2014, with the change in percentage of drug overdose deaths mentioning at least one specific drug differing by <10 percentage points between 2014 and 2015. States with good reporting had 80% – <90% of drug overdose deaths mention at least one specific drug in 2014, with the change in the percentage of drug overdose deaths mentioning at least one specific drug differing by <10 percentage points between 2014 and 2015. Rate comparisons between states should not be made due to variations in reporting across states.

  • § Statistically significant at p<0.05 level. Gamma tests were used if the number of deaths was less than 100 in 2014 or 2015, and z-tests were used if the number of deaths was ≥100 in both 2014 and 2015.