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Author Notes:

Corresponding author. Email: keith.easterling@emory.edu

Dr. Jones conceived of the study.

Drs. Easterling and Mack designed the study methods.

Dr. Easterling performed the statistical analysis and wrote the draft text.

Dr. Mack supervised all aspects of the study completion and manuscript development.

All authors contributed to writing and approved the final manuscript.

The authors would like to acknowledge Rong Cai, M.A., Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) for her efforts in support of quality checks on the data and analyses.

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


Research Funding:

Authors were affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), Atlanta, Georgia, or the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.

All work for this manuscript was done by Federal employees and no funding was involved.


  • drug abuse warning network (DAWN)
  • mortality
  • overdose
  • opiod
  • heroin

Location of fatal prescription opioid-related deaths in 12 states, 2008–2010: Implications for prevention programs


Journal Title:

Journal of Safety Research


Volume 58


, Pages 105-109

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Introduction Prescription opioid pain reliever overdose is a major public health issue in the United States. To characterize the location of drug-related deaths, we examined fatal prescription opioid and illicit drug-related deaths reported in 12 states. Methods Data are from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Medical examiners or coroners in 12 states (MA, MD, ME, NH, NM, OK, OR, RI, UT, VA, VT, WV) reported details of state-wide drug-related mortality during 2008–2010. DAWN data included location and manner of death, age, race, and drugs involved. Deaths were coded into three categories: prescription opioid-related, illicit drug-related, and cases that involved both a prescription opioid and an illicit drug. Results During a 3-year period, there were 14,091 opioid or illicit drug-related deaths in 12 states. More than half of the prescription opioid-related deaths in all states, except Maryland, occurred at home, rather than in public or in a health care facility. Although it was still the predominant category, lower percentages of illicit drug-related deaths occurred at home. Conclusion Prescription opioid overdoses have increased substantially, and the location of the person at the time of death can have important public health implications for interventions. Practical applications This paper highlights that bystander support can be a critical lifesaving factor in drug related deaths but may be more likely for illicit drug-related deaths than for prescription opioid-related deaths.

Copyright information:

© 2017 Elsevier B.V

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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