GBI: Prescription drug deaths down in 2018


An analysis of autopsies performed by the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in 152 counties in which drug overdose was the cause of death or significant contributing factor in the death has been completed. The analysis revealed prescription drug overdose deaths in 2018 were lower than the previous three years while the overdose deaths attributed to illicit drugs were higher than they have been during the same period.

(Note: These statistics do not include autopsies performed by medical examiners in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, or Rockdale counties.)

Of the 861 drug overdose deaths in 2018, there were 303 deaths which involved prescription drugs only. The analysis also showed that 441 drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved illicit drugs only and 115 deaths are attributed to both prescription and illicit drugs.

Deaths from: 2015 2016 2017 2018

Rx Only: 441 405 349 303

Illicit Only: 219 271 383 441

Combination Rx/Illicit: 84 101 130 115

Over the counter: 1 2

Total Deaths: 774 777 863 861


For overdose drug deaths in 2018, the drugs found through toxicology tests in the highest numbers were as follows:

Methamphetamine: 304

Cocaine: 144

Fentanyl/Analogues: 138

Oxycodone: 136

Alprazolam: 129

Heroin: 124

Gabapentin: 99

Methadone: 70

Morphine: 60

Diphenhydramine: 58


For all drug deaths, the number per age range for 2018 were as follows:

Age Number of Deaths

<15 5

15-24 45

25-34 177

35-44 206

45-54 208

55-64 163

>64 54

Unreported 3


Number of deaths by race or ethnicity

White: 720 (83.62%)

Black: 125 (14.52%)

Hispanic: 13 (1.51%)

Asian: 2 (0.02%)


Number of deaths by gender

Male: 512 (59.46%)

Female: 349 (40.53%)


A breakdown on the manner of death for 2018 drug overdose deaths

Accidental: 777 (90.24%)

Suicide: 72 (8.36%)

Undetermined: 12 (1.39%)

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