Although national attention on the drug overdose epidemic has been focused on opioids, methamphetamines are increasingly associated with a significant proportion of the drug overdose deaths.
From 2012-2018, the rate of drug overdose deaths in the US involving psychostimulants such as methamphetamine increased nearly 5-fold (Hedegaard, 2020).
More methamphetamine overdose deaths were reported from LAC coroner data than from death certificates.
According to LAC Coroner data, there were 1,526 methamphetamine-related deaths in 2021, a 6% increase from the previous year (Figure 1).
In 2021, the methamphetamine overdose age-adjusted death rate was 14.2 compared to 14.3 for fentanyl and 16.3 for all opioids per 100,000 population (Figure 2).
According to death certificate data, in 2021, methamphetamine and opioids were the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in LAC.
Methamphetamine accounted for 56% of all drug overdoses in 2021 (Figure 3).
Demographic differences were observed for meth overdose deaths based on death certificate data.
In recent years, methamphetamine-related deaths in the US increasingly co-involved opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). From 2016-2017, psychostimulant-related deaths that co-involved opioids increased 52%, while those that were independent of opioids increased 23% (Hoots 2019). In 2017, opioids were involved in 50% of psychostimulant overdoses (Karissa 2019, Gladden 2019).
In LAC, methamphetamine overdose deaths co-involving opioids increased gradually from 2009-2015, then began to increase more quickly through 2019, then jumped in 2020 and continued to rise (Figure 10).
Co-involvement of fentanyl increased 6,158% between 2016-2021 from 12 to 751 deaths. Deaths co-involving heroin increased from 64 in 2016 to 253 in 2020, then decreased to 134 deaths in 2021 (Figure 11).
CDC. Wide‐ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020. Available from: http://wonder.cdc.gov
Gladden, R. M., O’Donnell, J., Mattson, C. L., & Seth, P. (2019). Changes in opioid-involved overdose deaths by opioid type and presence of benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamine—25 states, July–December 2017 to January–June 2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(34), 737.
Hedegaard H, Miniño AM, Warner M. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2018. NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality. NCHS Data Brief No. 356. January 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db356-h.pdf
Hoots, B., Vivolo‐Kantor, A., & Seth, P. (2020). The rise in non‐fatal and fatal overdoses involving stimulants with and without opioids in the United States. Addiction.
Kariisa, M., Scholl, L., Wilson, N., Seth, P., & Hoots, B. (2019). Drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants with abuse potential—United States, 2003–2017. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 68(17), 388.
Los Angeles County Medical Examiner/Coroner’s Office. Coroner and Toxicology data. Data as of May 2022.