Deaths related to Prescription Drug Overdoses Higher than Illicit Drug Overdoses

November 4, 2009

DECATUR –As a result of an analysis of autopsies performed by the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in which drug overdose was the cause of death or a significant contributing factor in the death, it was found that of the 638 drug overdose deaths in Georgia in 2008, 543 involved prescription drugs or a combination of prescription and illicit drugs.  There were 95 deaths involving illicit drugs only.

These statistics do NOT include autopsies performed by medical examiners in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Henry, Hall or Rockdale Counties.
In 2007, there were 610 drug overdose deaths and 107 involved illicit drugs only.

For overdose drug deaths in both 2007 and 2008, the drugs found through toxicology tests in the highest numbers were as follows:

Methadone: 375
Alprazolam: 345
Hydrocodone: 224
Oxycodone: 202

Cocaine: 247

For those deaths involving prescription drugs or a combo of Rx and illicit, the numbers per age range for 2008 were as follows:

1-17:  16
18-25:  66
26-35:  107
36-45:  146
46-55:  163
56+:  45

For 2007 prescription drugs or a combo of Rx and illicit overdose deaths, the numbers per age were as follows:


1-17:  8
18-25:  58
26-35:  101
36-45:  143
46-55:  141
56+:  52


A breakdown by race and sex for 2008 prescription drug overdose deaths follows:

566 white decedents, 72 black.
247 females, 391 males
Of the 566 white, there were 221 females and 345 males.
Of the 72 black, there were 26 females and 46 males.

For 2007, the breakdown follows:

524 white decedents, 83 black, 1 Asian, and 2 of unknown race.
247 females, 363 males.
Of the 524 white, there were 220 females and 304 males.
Of the 83 black, there were 26 females and 57 males.

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Contact Information: 
John Bankhead - 404-270-8330