AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the second year in a row, the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office reported drug toxicity was the leading cause of accidental deaths countywide in 2022. Last year, the trend marked the first time in a decade there were more accidental drug-related deaths than motor vehicle fatalities or fatal falls.
The medical examiner’s office released its 2022 annual report Wednesday, noting 417 people died from accidental drug toxicity last year. Among other accidental deaths, motor vehicle fatalities and falls rounded out the top three causes, at 193 deaths and 149 fatalities, respectively.
It comes as Travis County leaders navigate a continued public health crisis related to drug overdoses, particularly those involving fentanyl. Of the 417 accidental drug deaths recorded last year, 245 of those involved fentanyl, per TCME.
Beyond fentanyl, accidental drug deaths involving illicit substances in 2022 included:
- 137 deaths involving cocaine
- 248 deaths involving methamphetamine
- 33 deaths involving heroin
The vast majority of drug deaths were reported as accidental, with 23 deaths (5%) noted as caused by suicide, and the remaining 417 deaths (95%) unintentional.
More than two-thirds of drug-related deaths in Travis County last year involved a combination of multiple drugs, with 304 multi-drug toxicity deaths recorded. Only 136 drug toxicity deaths — amounting to 31% of drug-related deaths countywide — involved only a single drug.
Individuals between the ages of 21-40 years accounted for the largest share of accidental drug deaths, per TCME:
- 0-15 years: 0 deaths
- 16-20 years: 12 deaths
- 21-30 years: 90 deaths
- 31-40 years: 112 deaths
- 41-50 years: 80 deaths
- 51-60 years: 79 deaths
- 61-70 years: 39 deaths
- 70 years and older: 5 deaths
Men continued to account for the majority of accidental drug-related deaths, with 312 dying from an accidental overdose in 2022. Of the 417 total accidental drug-related deaths, 105 of those were reported to be women.
By ethnicity and race, accidental drug-related deaths broke down as:
- White: 239 deaths, 57%
- Hispanic: 106 deaths, 26%
- Black: 59 deaths, 14%
- Asian: 10 deaths, 2%
- American Indian: 3 deaths, 1%