Overdose Deaths*

What Public Health Tracks

Deaths in Maricopa County which are potentially due to unnatural causes are investigated by the Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) and postmortem examinations and laboratory testing is performed. The following data are based on toxicology results for deaths which were certified by OME to be substance use caused, also referred to as overdose deaths. Please keep in mind that these are counts of deaths and any interpretation or comparisons to other jurisdictions should take into account the total population. 

These data reflect all cases investigated by the OME and include all drug-related overdose deaths that occurred in Maricopa County for both residents and non-residents. Approximately ten percent of the total cases are for non-residents (out of county or out of state) or for homeless or transient individuals.

All substance-related deaths were included regardless of the substance itself, this includes over the counter, prescription, and illicit drugs. This dataset does not identify whether any prescription medications detected were actually prescribed to the deceased individual or whether they were obtained illegally.

Data below are as of September 30, 2018.

All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.

Total drug overdose deaths in 2018: 1,014

From October 2017 to September 2018, there were 1,279 drug-related overdose deaths in Maricopa County. The majority of the deaths involved opioids, methamphetamines, or alcohol.

line chart displaying types of substances and number of overdose deaths

In 2018, about 80% of overdose deaths involved more than one drug, and 90% of overdose deaths were determined to be accidental.

pie chart of how many drugs involved in overdose deaths
pie chart percentages of overdose deaths due to accident, homicide, suicide or undetermined

Opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) killed 857 people between October 2017 to September 2018, and over 70% of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescription opioids (including fentanyl).

line chart overdose deaths involving prescription opioids versus heroin

Opiate prescribing practices are decreasing in Maricopa County. opioid prescribing trends

In 2018, 66% of all drug overdose deaths involved at least one opioid. And among those with an opioid involved, 51% had only one opioid in their system.

doughnut chart percentages of opioid versus no opioids involved in death
pie chart number of opioids involved in overdose death

Overall, 45 to 54-year-olds had more drug overdose deaths than other age groups.

line chart of age groups overdose deaths

In 2018, drug overdose deaths were seen predominantly in males (72% male; 28% female). And drug overdose deaths were much higher (63%) in non-Hispanic white population than other race/ethnic groups.

doughnut chart percentages male or female overdose deaths
pie chart race or ethnicities overdose deaths

*Drug and toxin metabolism can vary by individual and the circumstances surrounding their death and positive toxicology results are based on an overall positive test for that substance, not a specific threshold for toxic levels. The information on specific substances should be interpreted in light of that limitation.