Nearly 108,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2022, breaking record, CDC says

Nearly 108,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2022, according to final federal figures released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the last two decades, the number of U.S. overdose deaths has risen almost every year and continued to break annual records — making it the worst overdose epidemic in American history.

The official number for 2022 was 107,941, the CDC said, which is about 1% higher than the nearly 107,000 overdose deaths in 2021.

Between 2021 and 2022, data shows the fatal overdose rate for synthetic opioids other than methadone — which the CDC defines as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol — increased 4.1%. Rates for cocaine and psychostimulants with abuse potential — which includes drugs such as methamphetamineamphetamine and methylphenidate — also increased.

There were also some declines seen in certain drugs, with lower rates reported for heroin, natural and semisynthetic opioids, and methadone.

The overdose death rate for females declined for the first time in five years, according to the report. But the male overdose death rate continued to inch up, the report said, accounting for about 70% of U.S. overdose deaths.

There were also shifts among age groups from 2021 to 2022, with a decreased rate of drug overdose deaths among those aged 15 to 24, and 25 to 34.

Rates increased, however, among adults aged 35 and older, with the highest rates for adults aged 35 to 44.

While adults aged 65 and older had the lowest rates in both 2021 and 2022, they also experienced the largest percent increase at 10.0% (from 12.0 per 100,000 in 2021 to 13.2 per 100,000 in 2022).

The overall drug overdose death rate rose from 2021 to 2022, but the increase was so small it was not considered statistically significant.

Earlier provisional data estimated more than 109,000 overdose deaths in 2022, but provisional data includes all overdose deaths, while the final numbers are limited to U.S. residents.

The CDC has not yet reported overdose numbers for 2023, although provisional data through the first 10 months of the year suggest overdose deaths continued to be stable last year.

In an effort to prevent drug overdoses and deaths in young people, the American Medical Association has called for school staff to “put naloxone in schools so it can save lives.” The association also issued a statement in conjunction with other organizations encouraging states, schools and local communities to allow students to carry naloxone in schools of all grade levels.

State and federal legislators have introduced legislation to require schools carry naloxone, and the Biden administration encouraged schools at the end of last year to keep the medication on-hand and teach staff how to use it.