Deadly drug overdoses by state


What are America's deadliest states for drug overdoses?

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes annual data on drug-overdose death rates in every U.S. state. 

Here is a ranking of every state by overdose-related deaths for 2020, the most recent year available.

50. South Dakota

South Dakota

CB/AP


10.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

Former meth user Jeremy Bucholz speaks to South Dakota students about the addictive drug. 

In 2020, South Dakota had the fewest drug overdoses per capita in the United States. The state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents decreased slightly from 2019. 

49. Nebraska

Nebraska

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images


11.3 per 100,000 residents 

There were 214 drug-overdose deaths in Nebraska in 2020, 53 more than the state saw in 2019.

48. Texas

Texas

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images


14.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

Then-President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the U.S. Border Patrol’s McAllen Station. Agents displayed bricks of heroin and meth wrapped in black tape.

From 2019 to 2020, Texas’ drug-overdose death rate increased 31%.

47. Iowa

Iowa

Nati Harnik/AP


14.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

This recovering meth addict said he had to move more than 150 miles from his home to receive treatment.

In Iowa, from 2019 to 2020, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased 24%.

45 (TIE). Montana

Montana

David Goldman/AP


15.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

Drug abuse has devastated many families on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana.

In Montana, from 2019 to 2020, the drug-overdose death rate rose by 1.5 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

45 (TIE). North Dakota

North Dakota

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post/Getty Images


15.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

A police officer searches a car for drugs during a routine traffic stop in New Town, North Dakota.

From 2019 to 2020 in North Dakota, the state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased about 11%. 

44. Idaho

Idaho

Patrick Sison/AP


15.9 deaths per 100,000 residents

Compared with most other U.S. states, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents in Idaho basically held steady: It ticked up 5% from 2019 to 2020.  

42 (TIE). Kansas

Kansas

Larry W. Smith/Getty Images


17.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

In Pratt, Kansas, a deputy sheriff holds holds two bags of methamphetamine.

From 2019 to 2020 in Kansas, the state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased 22%.

42 (TIE). Wyoming

Wyoming

Wayne Nicholls/AP


17.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

Community leaders of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming hang posters warning against the dangers of drugs such as meth.

In the state, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased 23% from 2019 to 2020. 

41. Georgia

Georgia

Kevin D. Liles/AP


18 deaths per 100,000 residents

Paul Connell, CEO of a methadone clinic in Rossville, Georgia, shows one liquid dose of methadone, which is used to treat opioid addiction.

From 2019 to 2020 in Georgia, the state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surged 37% percent. 

40. Hawaii

Hawaii

Cathy Bussewitz/AP


18.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

Vials of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and clean syringes have been distributed in Honolulu to try to reduce deaths from overdoses.

Despite falling in these rankings (Hawaii was previously ranked 34th), the state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased about 15% from 2019 to 2020. 

39. Oregon

Oregon

Ted S. Warren/AP


18.7 deaths per 100,000 residents

Business owners near this Portland, Oregon, park have complained to authorities about public drug use.

From 2019 to 2020, Oregon’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents rose 34%.

38. Minnesota

Minnesota

Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images


19 deaths per 100,000 residents

An aid worker left a note with suggestions for maintaining a needle exchange program in a Minneapolis homeless camp.

In Minnesota, from 2019 to 2020, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surged 34%.

37. Arkansas

Arkansas

Danny Johnston/AP


19.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

A man is escorted from a medical clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, by Drug Enforcement Administration officers. The raid was part of a yearlong DEA operation involving four states.

Arkansas saw its drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents grow 41% from 2019 to 2020. 

36. Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Justin Juozapavicius/AP


19.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

This woman is one of many Cherokee people in Oklahoma to test positive for hepatitis C as a consequence of drug use.

From 2019 to 2020, Oklahoma’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents rose 16%.

35. Utah

Utah

Rick Bowmer/AP


20.5 deaths per 100,000 residents

Recovering addicts and families who have lost loved ones to overdoses attend a 2017 press conference on the opioid crisis in Utah.

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Previously ranked 27th, Utah saw its drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents tick up 8% from 2019 to 2020.

34. Mississippi

Mississippi

Rogelio V. Solis/AP


21.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

In 2009, 18 people were arrested in connection with what, at the time, was considered Mississippi’s largest meth distribution ring.

From 2019 to 2020, Mississippi’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents climbed 55%.

33. California

California

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images


21.8 deaths per 100,000 residents

A hotel in Woodland Hills, California, is taped off as officials investigate suspected fentanyl overdoses that sent four people to the hospital.

From 2019 to 2020, California’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents skyrocketed 45%. In all, California lost 8,908 people to fatal overdoses in 2020 — the biggest number posted by any state.   

31 (TIE). Alaska

Alaska

Toby Talbot/AP


22 deaths per 100,000 residents

In 2017, the state of Alaska sued Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin. In 2022, Purdue reached a nationwide settlement over its role in the opioid crisis.

From 2019 to 2020, Alaska’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased 24%.

31 (TIE). Washington

Washington

Getty Images


22 deaths per 100,000 residents

A dog trains to aid the Department of Homeland Security in detecting drugs along the U.S.-Canadian border.

In Washington state, the drug-overdose death rate increased by about six fatalities per 100,000 residents from 2019 to 2020.

30. Alabama

Alabama

Mike Stewart/AP


22.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

A forensic chemist studies an opioid mixture nicknamed “gray death.” 

From 2019 to 2020, Alabama’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents jumped 37%.

29. Colorado

Colorado

David Zalubowski/AP


24.9 deaths per 100,000 residents

In this photo, a doctor demonstrates how to inject a dose of life-saving naloxone.

In Colorado, the state’s overall drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents rose 38% from 2019 to 2020. 

28. New York

New York

Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images


25.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

Here, protesters rally outside of then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in New York City in 2019. They accused Cuomo of neglecting drug overdose numbers in the state.

From 2019 to 2020, New York’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents climbed 40%.

27. Nevada

Nevada

Julie Jacobson/AP


26 deaths per 100,000 residents

This photo shows 212 pounds of meth seized in Las Vegas.

From 2019 to 2020, Nevada’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents jumped nearly 30%.

26. Virginia

Virginia

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty Images


26.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

An Alexandria, Virginia, man holds a photo of his nephew, who died in 2019 after overdosing on fentanyl.

From 2019 to 2020, Virginia’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents skyrocketed 45%. 

25. Wisconsin

Wisconsin

J. Scott Applewhite/AP


27.7 deaths per 100,000 residents

Then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan holds a photo of a Wisconsin family whose son overcame addiction to prescription drugs.

While Wisconsin holds steady in its ranking in this countdown, its drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surged 31% from 2019 to 2020. 

24. Illinois

Illinois

Scott Olson/Getty Images


28.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

An Illinois firefighter treats an overdose victim as she is transported to a hospital.

From 2019 to 2020 in Illinois, the state’s drug-overdose death rate rose 28% per 100,000 residents.

23. Michigan

Michigan

David Eggert/AP


28.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

Michigan officials speak to reporters after announcing a new state opioid unit in 2017.

From 2019 to 2020, Michigan saw its drug-overdose death rate increase 17% per 100,000 residents. 

22. New Hampshire

New Hampshire

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images


30.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

Here, a New Hampshire firefighter helps a man who overdosed on heroin.

Previously ranked ninth in this countdown, New Hampshire saw its drug-overdose death rate dip 5% from 2019 to 2020. 

21. North Carolina

North Carolina

Mark Wilson/Getty Images


30.9 deaths per 100,00 residents

U.S. Marine Cpl. Robert Richards was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after he reportedly died of an accidental overdose in Jacksonville, North Carolina. 

North Carolina’s drug-overdose death rate surged from 2019 to 2020, increasing by nearly nine deaths per 100,000 residents.

19 (TIE). Missouri

Missouri

Jeff Roberson/AP


32.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

This Missouri woodworking business hires former drug users and felons to help them reintegrate into society.

In the state, the drug-overdose death rate increased by nearly 20% per 100,000 residents from 2019 to 2020. 

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19 (TIE). New Jersey

New Jersey

Andrew Burton/Getty Images


32.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

A recovering heroin addict in Camden, New Jersey, points to a scar from injecting drugs.

In New Jersey, the drug-overdose death rate basically held steady from 2019 to 2020. 

18. Vermont

Vermont

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


32.9 deaths per 100,000 residents

In St. Johnsbury, Vermont, a 23-year-old injects suboxone, an opioid that is sometimes prescribed to help recovering addicts cope with symptoms of heroin withdrawal.

From 2019 to 2020, Vermont’s drug-overdose death rate rose by about nine fatalities per 100,000 residents.

17. Massachusetts

Massachusetts

Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Images


33.9 deaths per 100,000 residents

This is a look at Massachusetts’ so-called “Methadone Mile,” a stretch of Boston that’s been described as “the epicenter of the city’s opioid crisis.” 

In the state, from 2019 to 2020, the drug-overdose death rate ticked up 5% per 100,000 residents. 

16. South Carolina

South Carolina

Christina Myers/AP


34.9 deaths per 100,000 residents

In South Carolina’s Lexington County, deputies stopped field testing drugs in 2017 as a precautionary measure due to the dangers of handling powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Now, chemists analyze the substances in a lab to determine their contents.

From 2019 to 2020, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 South Carolina residents surged more than 50%. 

15. Florida

Florida

Joe Raedle/Getty Images


35 deaths per 100,000 residents

A Broward County sheriff’s sergeant speaks to a woman to see if she is carrying the deadly synthetic drug flakka, also known as bath salts.

Previously ranked 19th in this countdown, Florida saw its drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surge by 37% from 2019 to 2020. In all, there were 7,231 overdose fatalities in Florida in 2020, the second most of any state. 

14. Arizona

Arizona

Getty Images


35.8 deaths per 100,000 residents

This residential drug treatment center is located in Arizona.

Arizona’s drug-overdose death rate rose by nine fatalities per 100,000 residents from 2019 to 2020.

13. Indiana

Indiana

Darron Cummings/AP


36.7 deaths per 100,000 residents

An Indiana mother plays with her son while discussing her struggle with addiction.

From 2019 to 2020, Indiana’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents rose 38%. 

12. Rhode Island

Rhode Island

Bob Salsberg/AP


38.2 deaths per 100,000 residents

An 11-foot, 800-pound sculpture of a burnt spoon is displayed outside a Rhode Island drugmaker’s office to protest the opioid crisis.

In Rhode Island, the drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surged by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020. 

11. New Mexico

New Mexico

Russell Contreras/AP


39 deaths per 100,000 residents

Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets holds his adopted daughter, Hope. Holets persuaded a pregnant heroin user to let him adopt her unborn child.

In New Mexico, the state’s drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents increased 29% from 2019 to 2020. 

10. Connecticut

New England Towns Struggle With Opioid And Heroin Epidemic

John Moore / Getty Images


39.1 deaths per 100,000 residents

From 2019 to 2020, Connecticut’s drug-overdose death rate rose by about four fatalities per 100,000 residents.

9. Maine

Maine

Erin Clark/The Boston Globe/Getty Images


39.7 deaths per 100,000 residents

Black Balloon Day, a national day of remembrance of those lost to drug overdoses, is observed in Portland, Maine.  

From 2019 to 2020, Maine’s drug-overdose death rate increased by nearly 10 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

8. Pennsylvania

Drug Overdose Deaths Skyrocket In 2020 Fueled By Coronavirus Pandemic

Getty Images


42.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

A man in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood prepares to inject heroin and fentanyl.

Pennsylvania’s drug-overdose death rate increased nearly 20% from 2019 to 2020. 

7. Louisiana

Louisiana

Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images


42.7 deaths per 100,000 residents

The Supreme Court ruled that police, like this officer in Louisiana, could legally use drug-sniffing dogs at traffic stops.

Previously ranked 15th, Louisiana jumps to seventh place in this countdown. From 2019 to 2020, its drug-overdose death rate per 100,000 residents surged by more than 50%.

6. Maryland

Maryland

Alex Wong/Getty Images


44.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

This photo was taken after a 2016 news conference on the opioid crisis in Baltimore.

Maryland’s drug-overdose death rate rose by about six fatalities per 100,000 residents from 2019 to 2020.

5. Tennessee

Tennessee

David Goldman/AP


45.6 deaths per 100,000 residents

A Tennessee woman sits in a holding cell after being arrested on suspicion of drug possession.

Previously ranked 11th in this rundown, Tennessee saw drug-overdose deaths per 100,000 residents rise more than 30% from 2019 to 2020. 

4. Ohio

Ohio

Spencer Platt/Getty Images


47.2 deaths per 100,000 residents

Medical workers and police treat a woman who has overdosed on heroin. Ohio’s drug-overdose death rate fell by about nine fatalities per 100,000 residents from 2019 to 2020.

3. Delaware

Delaware

AP


47.3 deaths per 100,000 residents

This photo, provided by Delaware State Police, shows 15,000 packets heroin found during a traffic stop in Delaware. 

In this state, the drug-overdose death rate dipped from 2019 to 2020. 

2. Kentucky

Kentucky

Timothy D. Easley/AP


49.2 deaths per 100,000 residents

A judge discusses a drug rehabilitation probation program with prisoners in Kentucky.

Formerly in seventh place on this list, Kentucky saw drug-overdose deaths per 100,000 residents rise 25% from 2019 to 2020. 

1. West Virginia

West Virginia

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images


81.4 deaths per 100,000 residents

West Virginia’s already high drug-overdose death rate rose about 54% from 2019 to 2020.  

Here, a fire department rescue unit is seen near downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia.



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