Nonopioid Overdose Death Rates Rose Almost As Fast As Those Involving Opioids, 1999-2016.Health Aff (Millwood). 2019 07; 38(7):1216-1224.HA
The number of Americans dying from drug overdoses has risen rapidly, but the contribution of nonopioid drugs to this growth is not well understood. Using vital statistics data from the universe of deaths among US residents in the period 1999-2016, I calculated levels of and increases in overall nonopioid fatal overdose rates and those for subgroups stratified by manner of death, sex, race/ethnicity, and age. Mortality rates were also calculated separately for sedatives, stimulants, antidepressants, and cocaine. Recently developed methods were used to correct for the incomplete reporting of drug involvement on death certificates. From 1999 to 2016 the number of nonopioid drug deaths rose 274 percent, and deaths per 100,000 population rose by 223 percent. Over the same period, opioid-involved fatality counts and rates grew by 371 percent and 307 percent, respectively. Fatal overdose rates involving stimulants increased more than tenfold, with slower growth but higher rates for deaths involving sedatives and cocaine. Midlife non-Hispanic whites generally experienced the highest levels and rise in nonopioid death rates, but cocaine fatality rates were particularly common among nonwhite or Hispanic males ages 40-59. Policies designed to curb the opioid epidemic are probably helpful in reducing nonopioid deaths, but targeted interventions may also be needed.