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The U.S. recorded 107,941 drug overdose deaths in 2022, according to a new federal report — a total that marks an all-time record but also shows signs that the country’s overdose rate may finally be leveling off after years of steady increase.

The 2022 total marks only a slight increase from the drug death toll of 106,699 the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flattening of drug death rates could provide a rare glimmer of hope amid the bleak U.S. drug crisis, which has seen overdose rates rise inexorably for the past two decades and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.


A large majority of those deaths were driven by the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. Since emerging in the drug supply in the mid-2010s, fentanyl has increasingly come to dominate the U.S. illicit drug market. Even as fentanyl deaths have skyrocketed, the share of deaths involving other opioids — like heroin, methadone, and prescription painkillers — has decreased.

Despite the promising overall trend, the report still highlighted a number of negative developments: namely, an increase in overdoses involving stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine and a widening of racial disparities in overdose death rates.

While overdose rates among white Americans decreased slightly from 2021 to 2022, overdoses among Black people jumped. American Indian and Alaska Native populations experienced a 15% increase in overdose death rates, larger than any other demographic — accelerating a preexisting trend in tribal communities across the country.


And while overall drug deaths leveled off, the statistics still show a troubling trend concerning stimulants: Fatal overdoses involving cocaine and methamphetamine increased by 12.3% and 4%, respectively, from 2021 to 2022.

The report also showed signs of overdose rates decreasing among young people but increasing in older populations. While people aged 15 to 34 overdosed at slightly lower rates in 2022 compared to the year before, every age group 35 and older experienced an uptick — even Americans 65 and older, who overdose at lower rates than any other age group but still experienced a 10% increase.

STAT’s coverage of chronic health issues is supported by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Our financial supporters are not involved in any decisions about our journalism.

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