Archive, News and Events

Policy Brief: The Overdose Crisis in California: 2017‑2021

The Department of Health Care Service, the Health Management Associates, and the California Health Policy Strategies, L.L.C. developed a policy brief in January 2022 outlining the urgent need for action from policy makers regarding the crisis of fatal drug overdoses. Data from the California Department of Public Health Overdose Surveillance Dashboard and the National Center for Health Statistics produced the following key findings:

  • Preventable drug-related overdose deaths have doubled since 2017.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with an acceleration of the overdose crisis and with approximately 1,000 additional unpredicted deaths in 2020.
  • Drug-related fatal overdose is a top-ten cause of death in California.
  • Synthetic opioids and stimulants are the drug most frequently involved in the increasing fatal overdoses.
  • Overdose deaths disproportionately impact some age groups and race/ethnicities, and the pandemic made the overdose epidemic worse amongst many of the most disadvantaged.

The full policy brief includes more information about the overdose crisis, including informative graphs and discussion.