Number of deaths due to drug injury of any intent (unintentional, suicide, homicide, or undetermined) per 100,000 population. (3-year average)



Drug Deaths

United States Drug Deaths (2011-2015) see more
  • Number of deaths due to drug injury of any intent (unintentional, suicide, homicide, or undetermined) per 100,000 population. (3-year average)
Ranking Value State
13.5 United States
14.9 District of Columbia
1 2.7 North Dakota
2 6.4 South Dakota
3 7.3 Nebraska
4 8.7 Iowa
5 9.4 Minnesota
6 9.5 Virginia
7 9.8 Texas
8 10.6 New York
9 10.7 Mississippi
10 10.8 Georgia
11 11.1 Kansas
12 11.3 California
13 11.8 Hawaii
14 11.9 Illinois
14 11.9 Maine
16 12 Alabama
17 12.1 Arkansas
18 12.5 Oregon
19 12.8 Idaho
20 12.9 Vermont
21 13 North Carolina
21 13 South Carolina
23 13.1 Connecticut
23 13.1 New Jersey
23 13.1 Wisconsin
26 13.4 Maryland
26 13.4 Montana
28 13.7 Massachusetts
29 13.9 Florida
30 14.1 Washington
31 14.4 Louisiana
32 14.5 Michigan
32 14.5 New Hampshire
34 15.3 Alaska
35 15.8 Colorado
35 15.8 Indiana
37 16.4 Missouri
37 16.4 Wyoming
39 17.2 Delaware
40 17.6 Tennessee
41 18.1 Arizona
42 18.7 Pennsylvania
43 18.9 Ohio
44 19.6 Rhode Island
45 20.3 Oklahoma
46 21.9 Utah
47 22.4 Nevada
48 24 Kentucky
49 24.4 New Mexico
50 32.4 West Virginia


Explore the Data

Disparities Related Measures Thematic Map
Drug Deaths
Core Measure Impact
Drug Deaths
Related Measures
Drug Deaths
Thematic Map
Drug Deaths


Drug Deaths is the 3-year average, age-adjusted number of deaths due to drug overdose of any intent (unintentional, suicide, homicide, or undetermined) per 100,000 population. The 2015 ranks are based on 2011 to 2013 data from the National Vital Statistics System’s multiple cause of death data reported by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The rates are age-adjusted using NCHS’s bridged-race estimates of the July 1 resident population from the 2012 county-level postcensal series.

The drug death rate varies from 2.7 deaths per 100,000 population in North Dakota to 32.4 deaths in West Virginia. The national drug death rate is 13.5 deaths per 100,000 population, up slightly from the rate of 13.0 deaths per 100,000 population last year.

Public Health Impact

A drug injury can occur if an individual takes a higher-than-recommended dose of a drug, takes a drug prescribed for another person, is maliciously administered a drug by another person, or has documented misuse or abuse of prescription and/or illicit drugs. Underlying cause of death from drug poisoning is recorded in death certificates. In 2013 an estimated 24.6 million Americans over age 12 used an illicit drug in the last month including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and misused prescription drugs.[1] After marijuana, prescription drugs are the 2nd-most abused substance with 6.5 million users.[2] Among psychotherapeutic drug abusers, 55% get the medication from a friend or family member for free.[3] Deaths from drug overdoses have been rising steadily over the past 2 decades and have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States.[4] Both the amount of prescription painkillers and the number of deaths from overdoses quadrupled from 1999 to 2013.[5]

Nearly 15,000 people die yearly of overdoses involving prescription painkillers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone.[6] Currently 51.8% of drug overdoses are related to pharmaceuticals, and 71.3% of prescription drug deaths involve opioid painkillers.2 Some 2.4 million American adults abuse opioids, and 60% of abusers get the medication directly from a doctor.[7] The effects of drug abuse and overdoses are costly to society, burdening individuals, their families, the health care system, and the economy.[8] Annual prescription opioid abuse costs reach upwards of $55 billion in terms of lost productivity at work, health care costs, drug treatment, and criminal justice expenses.[9],[10] The total cost of illicit drug use on the US economy is an estimated $193 billion.[11] Substance abuse contributes to other public health issues including teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, violent crimes, and suicide.5

For resources and advice about what to do if someone you know has a problem with illicit drugs, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Reducing drug-induced deaths is a Healthy People 2020 goal, with a target to reduce the rate to 11.3 deaths per 100,000 population.[12]


[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Substance use and mental health estimates from the 2013 national survey on drug use and health: overview of findings. 2014; Accessed July 21, 2015.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: summary of national findings. NSDUH Series H-41, HHS publication no. (SMA) 11-4658. Rockville,MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2011; August 27, 2015.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER), 2012; Accessed August 12, 2013.

[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics System mortality data. 2015; Accessed July 2, 2015.

[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers—United States, 1999-2008. MMWR. 2011;60(43):1487-1492.

[7] Kirschner N, Ginsburg J, Sulmasy L. Prescription drug abuse: executive summary of a policy position paper from the American college of physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014;160(3):198-201.

[8] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2020. Accessed July 21, 2015.

[9] Birnbaum HG, White AG, Schiller M, Waldman T, Cleveland JM, Roland CL. Societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Pain Med. 2011;12(4):657-667.

[10] Hansen RN, Oster G, Edelsberg J, Woody GE, Sullivan SD. Economic costs of nonmedical use of prescription opioids. Clin J Pain. 2011;27(3):194-202.

[11] National Drug Intelligence Center. National threat assessment: the economic impact of illicit drug use on American society. 2011; Accessed August 27, 2015.

[12] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2020. Accessed May 20, 2015.