The United States has more than double the rate of premature overdose deaths of at least 12 other countries, according to a new study.
The research, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, says that there were an estimated 63,632 drug overdose deaths in 2016 in the US.
“The U.S. has the highest death rate due to drug overdoses for both men and women (35 deaths in 100,000 men and 20 deaths in 100,000 women) in 2015, more than double those of any other country in our study,” Yingxi Chen, one of the researchers and a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, wrote in an email.
Mexico had the lowest rates: 1 death per 100,000 men and 0.2 deaths per 100,000 women.
The researchers also found that the United States had the second-highest increase in drug overdose deaths: 4.3% per year in men and 5.3% per year in women, Chen said. Only Estonia had a higher increase.
Norway was found to have the biggest decrease in drug overdose mortality for the whole population. Decreases were also found among men and women in Mexico, Spanish men and Danish women.
Researchers “looked at the trends and patterns of drug overdose deaths among people age 20 to 64 years in 13 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development between 2001-2015,” Chen said.
These countries were Australia, Chile, Denmark, England, Wales (the data for these two countries was combined), Estonia, Finland, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United States.
“I think it reinforces what we know about the United States but also points out some of the contrast in terms of the ways other countries have dealt with similar issues,” said Caleb Banta-Green, principal research scientist at the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, who was not involved in the research.