Rate of deaths by unintentional overdose (Number of deaths per 100,000 population)


Overdose is a preventable cause of death, yet in 2021 there were 247 deaths attributed to unintentional overdose in the city of Austin.  When calculated as a rate, this value equates to approximately 25.6 deaths per 100,000 population. 
The rate of drug overdose death in Texas for 2020 was 14.1 per 100,000.  Nationally, for 2020, the rate was 28.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 population.  While the rate for Austin is higher than the value for the state, Austin has a slightly lower rate compared to the United States overall.
Healthy People 2020 set a goal of reducing overdose deaths to no more than 11.3 deaths per 100,000 population.  A 10% decrease in the current rate for Austin would be 13.1 deaths due to unintentional overdose per 100,000 in 2023.
Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals and objectives aimed to improve health promotion and disease prevention.  For more information on Healthy People 2020, visit https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020


The rate of deaths related to unintentional overdose has varied slightly from 2011-2021 with a range of a low of 11.5 per 100,000 in 2014 to a high of 25.6 in 2021.  Unintentional overdose accounts for 1,635 total deaths over this 11 year period.
The epidemiology department at Austin Public Health (APH) works to create data briefs and fact sheets related to describing patterns of drug overdose within the community.  In addition, APH works in collaboration with the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) to advance mental wellness for Travis County residents.  Currently the CHIP has a goal of creating a 10% decrease in the incidence of substance use disorders among Travis County residents by working to decrease excessive drinking and substance use disorders by identifying, screening, and providing intervention for vulnerable populations.  APH is also working to pair substance use disorder workers with all existing mobile health outreach teams.
Note: to see the underlying data for this chart, please select the "View Source Data" link to the left.

Additional Measure Insights

Overdose deaths are reported through the Office of Vital Records (OVR).  If the manner of death was determined to be a suicide, the death was excluded from the data set in effort to differentiate unintentional from intentional overdose.  The overdose data is not limited to a certain type of substance but includes a range of substances including but not limited to alcohol, cocaine, acetaminophen, and methamphetamine.  The data is not limited to exclusively illegal substances.

When examining the demographic factors of unintentional overdose deaths, the majority of deaths were male (76%).  The age groups 20-29  & 30-39  had the highest counts of unintentional overdose deaths accounting for 44% of deaths during this 4-year period.  Of the 2018-2021 deaths, 66% were White, Non-Hispanic, 13.6% were Black (Hispanic or Non-Hispanic) and 18% were Hispanic (all races), and 3% were Asian/Other.
Since 2018, the percentage of overdoses involving heroin has steadily decreased from 33% in 2018 to 14% in 2021. However, during that same time frame, the percentage of overdoses that involved fentanyl increased substantially from 4% to 36%, representing a drastic and concerning increase. The use of fentanyl, and overdoses involving its use have increased nationwide. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Measure Details and Definition

1) Definition:  This measure includes deaths in the City of Austin where overdose is listed as an underlying cause of death on the death certificate.  
2) Calculation method: The data is reported as counts of overdose deaths.  If the manner of death was determined to be a suicide, then the case was excluded from the data presented for this measure.  Rates are calculated by dividing the total count of deaths over a population estimate for the city and multiplying by 100,000.
3) Data Collection Process: The Office of Vital Records (OVR), Austin Public Health receives and reports birth and death records for the City of Austin.  Currently, the City of Austin boundaries include areas of Travis, Hays, and Williamson Counties.  City of Austin data on overdose represents a portion of data within all three counties but not these counties entirely.  
4) Measure Target Calculation: No more than 11.3 deaths per 100,00 population, Healthy People 2020.  This target does not differentiate unintentional deaths from intentional deaths.  The ICD-10 codes used in the Healthy People 2020 measure slightly vary from the ICD-10 codes used by Austin Public Health for overdose deaths.  A 10% decrease in the current rate for Austin would be 13.1 deaths due to unintentional overdose per 100,000 in 2023.
5) Frequency Measure is Reported: Annually (Calendar)

Date page was last updated: December 2022