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Recent Substance Use Statistics


The District of Columbia has close to 400 opioid related deaths per year – contributing to the third highest opioid mortality rate in the country with 34.7 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to the national average of 14.6 deaths. The majority of deaths from drug overdoses are black males between the ages of 50 and 69.

This staggering statistic is one of critical reasons that the Howard University SBIRT Program has taken the lead to raise awareness for this deadly epidemic.

  • There was a steady increase in the number of fatal opioid overdoses between2014 and 2017. However, the number of opioid overdoses in 2018 decreased by 24.2% compared to 2017. 

  • In the first half of 2019, there are 20 fatal opioid overdoses per month. Data for the entire year of 2019 is inconclusive due and subject to modification due to cases where cause and manner of death is “Pending Further Investigation”. Compared to 2018 between January and June, there is an increase in opioid overdoses in 2019 during the same time period.

  • The total number of opioids identified in the fatal opioid overdoses per year ranges from the lowest being 122 in 2014 to the highest being 537 in 2017. There have been more opioids identified in the 2019 fatal opioid overdoses than in 2018. 

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Washington, D.C. Has The 3rd Highest Opioid Mortality Rate In The U.S.

  • Data in Washington, DC indicates an increasing percentage of opioid overdoses containing fentanyl or fentanyl analog. In 2016, 60% of cases involved fentanyl or a fentanyl analog. The noticeable increase in the presence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs began in March 2016, with over half of the cases containing fentanyl. In 2018, 86% of the cases contained fentanyl or a fentanyl analog. 

  • Overall, 957 or 82% of all deaths due to opioid use were among Blacks (Fig. 6) from 2014 to 2019. 

  • From 2014 to November 30, 2019, opioid-related fatal overdoses were most prevalent in Wards 5, 7 & 8 (n=576) (Fig.9). However, there are variations across years.

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