Recent trends in fatal poisoning by opiates in the United States.

J. S. Samkoff, S. P. Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deaths in the United States classified as unintentional poisoning by drugs and medicaments fell from 14.7 per million population in 1975 to 8.8 in 1978, a 40 per cent decrease. Seventy-three per cent of this drop attributable to a reduction in deaths coded to opiates and intravenous narcotism. These two categories accounted for 38 per cent of all unintentional drug deaths in 1975 but only 15 per cent in 1978. There was no simultaneous increase in other drug-related deaths, including suicides, to account for the reduction in deaths coded to opiates. The highest mortality rates and the greatest variation in mortality during 1970-78 occurred in 20-29 year old non-White males. Racial and sex differences in opiate poisoning mortality, notable early in the decade, were greatly reduced by 1978 due to a relatively larger decline in mortality of males and non-Whites. Time trends in mortality from opiate poisoning appear to coincide with variations in the amount of heroin smuggled into the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1256
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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