Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Population Health
Population Health Research Brief Series
Although the drug overdose crisis has affected all demographic groups and places in the United States, overdose rates are much higher in some sub-populations and places than others. This brief describes demographic and geographic differences in fatal drug overdose rates from 1999-2020. Throughout most of this period, fatal drug overdose rates were highest among young and middle-aged adult White and Native American males and middle-aged and older Black males. Rates have been consistently highest in Appalachia, but in recent years have spread throughout several regions in urban and rural areas alike. Although opioids have been the main contributor, cocaine- and methamphetamine-involved overdoses have increased dramatically in recent years, demonstrating that our problem is bigger than opioids.