Opioid Overdose Deaths Surge Among Older Adults- Study Finds

Last year, provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicated that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during the 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.

The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. 

A new study published on January 11, 2022, in JAMA Network Open suggests that the opioid epidemic has not spared older Americans, as overdose deaths among Americans ages 55 and older have steadily increased from 1999-2019.

The study examined opioid overdose deaths among Americans ages 55 and older that occurred between Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2019.

The researchers found that the annual number of overdose deaths among older Americans increased from 518 in 1999 to 10,292 in 2019. During the period studied, 79,893 older Americans died from an opioid overdose. Eighty percent of these people were between ages 55 and 64.

The study also found Black men ages 55 and older were four times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than other men in the age range. Learn More On: How Older Adults Can Use Medicines Safely


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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