Disclaimer: The material and information contained on this website is for educational purposes only.

50 Drug Overdose Death Statistics: How Many People Die From Drugs?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 585,000 people died worldwide due to drug use in 2017.

Drug Overdose Death Statistics

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 585,000 people died worldwide due to drug use in 2017.
  • In the United States, drug overdose deaths reached a record high of approximately 93,000 in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Globally, drug-related deaths have increased by 60% over the past decade.
  • Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, were responsible for 70% of drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2020.
  • In 2019, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were involved in more than 36,000 overdose deaths in the United States alone.
  • Methamphetamine-related deaths have been steadily increasing in the United States, reaching more than 16,500 in 2019.
  • Prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines and stimulants, contributed to around 22,500 overdose deaths in the United States in 2019.
  • In the European Union, drug-related deaths surpassed 9,000 in 2019.
  • Australia reported over 1,740 drug-induced deaths in 2019, marking a 15% increase from the previous year.
  • The United Kingdom witnessed a surge in drug-related deaths, with more than 4,500 recorded in 2020.
  • Overdose deaths involving heroin and other opioids have risen dramatically in Canada, surpassing 17,000 between January 2016 and December 2020.
  • Germany reported approximately 1,500 drug-related deaths in 2020.
  • France experienced over 3,500 drug-related deaths in 2019, according to the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  • Drug-related deaths in Spain exceeded 3,300 in 2019, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health.
Drug Overdose Death Rates | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Italy recorded more than 2,000 drug-related deaths in 2019, based on the National Institute of Statistics.
  • Russia has one of the highest drug-related mortality rates globally, with over 25,000 deaths reported in 2019.
  • Brazil recorded around 40,000 drug-related deaths in 2019.
  • In Mexico, drug-related violence resulted in over 35,000 deaths in 2020, although not all were due to drug consumption itself.
  • Japan witnessed an increase in drug-related deaths, with over 2,000 reported in 2019.
  • Overdose deaths related to opioids are a significant concern in India, with an estimated 62,000 deaths in 2019.
  • China reported approximately 40,000 drug-related deaths in 2019, primarily due to synthetic opioids.
  • South Africa recorded over 3,200 drug-related deaths in 2019, according to the South African Medical Research Council.
  • Overdose deaths involving opioids increased by 75% in Sweden between 2010 and 2020.
  • The Netherlands reported around 2,000 drug-related deaths in 2020.
  • Portugal, known for its progressive drug policies, has experienced a decline in drug-related deaths since decriminalization in 2001.
  • In 2019, more than 1,200 drug-related deaths were reported in Scotland, the highest rate in the European Union.
  • In Ireland, drug-related deaths exceeded 700 in 2019.
  • Denmark witnessed an increase in drug-related deaths, reaching over 300 in 2019.
  • Overdose deaths in New Zealand rose to 533 in 2020, the highest number ever recorded.
  • The majority of drug-related deaths occur among individuals aged 25 to 54 years old.

Drug Overdose Death Statistics [2023]: Opioids, Fentanyl & More

Drug Overdose Death Facts

  • Accidental drug overdoses account for a significant portion of drug-related deaths.
  • Men are more likely to die from drug-related causes than women.
  • Drug-related deaths are more prevalent among individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction.
  • Socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and unemployment, contribute to higher rates of drug-related deaths.
  • Overdose deaths often involve multiple substances, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.
  • Drug-related deaths have a substantial impact on life expectancy, particularly in countries with high rates.
  • Overdose deaths are not limited to illegal drugs; prescription medication misuse also contributes to the statistics.
  • The opioid crisis has contributed to a sharp rise in drug-related deaths in many countries, particularly in North America.
  • Accessibility to treatment, harm reduction programs, and naloxone distribution can help prevent drug-related deaths.
  • Drug-related deaths have significant economic costs due to healthcare expenses, loss of productivity, and criminal justice involvement.
  • Stigma and discrimination surrounding drug use can hinder individuals from seeking help and contribute to overdose deaths.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated drug-related deaths, with increased isolation and disrupted healthcare services.
  • Effective drug education, prevention programs, and early intervention can reduce drug-related deaths.
  • Supervised injection sites and drug checking services have shown to decrease overdose fatalities in some communities.
  • The rise of counterfeit or adulterated drugs has contributed to an increase in drug-related deaths.
  • Some countries have implemented harm reduction strategies, such as safe consumption rooms, to prevent drug-related deaths.
  • Research into alternative pain management methods and non-addictive treatments for substance use disorders is crucial in reducing drug-related deaths.
  • Collaborative efforts between healthcare providers, policymakers, and law enforcement are necessary to address the issue of drug-related deaths effectively.
  • Public awareness campaigns and destigmatization efforts can help reduce drug-related deaths by encouraging individuals to seek support and treatment.
Opioids, cocaine, cannabis and other illicit drugs - Our World in Data
Our World in Data

Drug Addiction Death Rate by State

  • West Virginia: 52.0 deaths per 100,000 people (48.3% of all deaths)
  • Ohio: 39.2 deaths per 100,000 people (38.3% of all deaths)
  • Pennsylvania: 36.1 deaths per 100,000 people (30.5% of all deaths)
  • District of Columbia: 35.2 deaths per 100,000 people (17.6% of all deaths)
  • Kentucky: 33.5 deaths per 100,000 people (34.1% of all deaths)
  • New Hampshire: 33.0 deaths per 100,000 people (36.7% of all deaths)
  • Maryland: 32.2 deaths per 100,000 people (28.7% of all deaths)
  • Massachusetts: 31.6 deaths per 100,000 people (31.3% of all deaths)
  • Rhode Island: 30.5 deaths per 100,000 people (29.5% of all deaths)
  • Connecticut: 28.7 deaths per 100,000 people (26.8% of all deaths)

Note: Data is from the year 2017 and was obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Recent Articles

Have Questions or Ready to Get Help Today?


We're ready to assist 24/7 with any questions about treatment for you or a loved one.

There is no cost or obligation to enter treatment when you speak with one of our admissions representatives.