Nearly half of all Americans know someone who died from a drug overdose

More than 40% of Americans know someone who died from a drug overdose, according to new research by the non-profit organization RAND. One in three say the death disrupted their lives.

This research comes as the U.S. battles its deadliest drug epidemic in history, with more than 112,000 Americans dying in the latest 12-month reporting period.

For the study, researchers asked 2,072 American adults whether they knew someone who died from an overdose and how that death affected their life. 

People in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) and the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) were much more likely to be affected.

“Our findings emphasize the need for research into the prevalence and impact of overdose loss, particularly among groups and communities that experience disproportionate rates of loss,” said Alison Athey, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND.

The research also indicates that the likelihood of lifetime exposure to an overdose death is higher among women than men, married individuals compared to unmarried participants, U.S.-born individuals compared to immigrants, and those living in urban settings compared to their counterparts in rural areas.

Researchers say more research is needed to figure out the impact on those left behind by fatal drug overdoses.