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One or More Opioids Involved in ~80 Percent of OD Deaths

MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2020 -- More than 83 percent of overdose deaths during January to June 2019 involved illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs), heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine (alone or in combination), according to research published in the Sept. 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Julie O'Donnell, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on drug overdose deaths during January to June 2019 from 24 states and the District of Columbia to describe the characteristics and circumstances of opioid- and stimulant-involved overdose deaths.

The researchers found that 48.9 percent of the 16,236 drug overdose deaths involved opioids without stimulants, while 32.6, 12.7, and 5.8 percent involved opioids and stimulants, stimulants without opioids, and neither opioids nor stimulants, respectively. One or more opioid was involved in about 80 percent of the overdose deaths, and IMFs were involved in three-quarters of opioid-involved overdose deaths. Overall, 83.8 percent of overdose deaths involved IMFs, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine (alone or in combination). Documentation of at least one potential opportunity for overdose prevention intervention was found for 62.7 percent of overdose deaths.

"Drug overdose interventions should address the combination and lethality of drugs being used (e.g., IMFs in combination with stimulants) and also work to prevent initiation of prescription drug misuse (e.g., inappropriate prescribing) and illicit drug use," the authors write.

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Posted: September 2020

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