Year: 2023 Source: Preventive Medicine. (2022). 163, 107217. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107217 SIEC No: 20230219
Comprehensive fatal overdose prevention requires an understanding of the fundamental causes and context surrounding drug overdose. Using a social determinants of health (SDOH) framework, this descriptive study examined unintentional and self-inflicted (i.e., suicide) overdose deaths in North Carolina (NC), focusing on specific drug involvement and contextual factors. Unintentional and suicide overdose deaths were identified using 2015-2019 NC death certificate data. Specific drug involvement was assessed by searching literal text fields for drug mentions. County-level contextual factors were obtained from NC Institute of Medicine and County Health Rankings, encompassing five SDOH domains (economic stability, social/community context, health care access/quality, education access/quality, neighborhood/built environment). Descriptive statistics were calculated by intent for drug involvement and a variety of contextual factors. During 2015-2019, 9% of NC drug overdose deaths were self-inflicted and 89% were unintentional (2% other/undetermined). Unintentional overdoses largely involved illicit drugs [fentanyl (47%), cocaine (33%), heroin (29%)]. Suicide overdoses frequently involved prescription opioids [oxycodone (18%), hydrocodone (10%)] and antidepressants (32%). Overall, overdose deaths tended to occur in under-resourced counties across all SDOH domains, though unintentional overdoses occurred more often among residents of under-resourced counties than suicide overdoses, with differences most pronounced for economic stability-related factors. There are notable distinctions between unintentional and suicide overdose deaths in demographics and drug involvement, though the assessment of SDOH demonstrated that overdose mortality is broadly associated with marginalization across all domains. These findings highlight the value of allocating resources to prevention and intervention approaches that target upstream causes of overdose (e.g., housing first, violence prevention programs).