Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Increasing Trend in Gabapentin-Involved Overdoses: Analysis of data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) showed a rise in gabapentin detection and involvement in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020.
  2. Demographic and Substance Use Patterns: Most gabapentin-involved overdose deaths occurred among non-Hispanic White individuals aged 35–54, with almost equal distribution between men and women. Gabapentin was frequently detected in combination with opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyls.
  3. Substantial Increase During COVID-19: The escalation in gabapentin-involved deaths coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting broader trends in overdose deaths driven by synthetic opioids and the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
  4. Stable Detection of Other Substances: While gabapentin was commonly detected in opioid-involved deaths, the detection of stimulants in such deaths remained low and stable, indicating a specific interaction between opioids and gabapentin in overdose contexts.
  5. Importance of Routine Testing: The findings advocate for routine inclusion of gabapentin in postmortem toxicology testing to better understand its role in overdose deaths and to address potential underreporting issues.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Christine L. Mattson, Email:

Suggested Citation

Mattson CL, Chowdhury F, Gilson TP. Notes from the Field: Trends in Gabapentin Detection and Involvement in Drug Overdose Deaths — 23 States and the District of Columbia, 2019–2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:664–666. DOI:


The study reviewed trends in gabapentin detection in drug overdose deaths across 23 states and the District of Columbia, revealing an increasing trend over the years 2019-2020, particularly in the context of opioid co-use.


Researchers utilized data from SUDORS, which includes information from death certificates and medical examiner or coroner reports with postmortem toxicology results.


The increase in gabapentin-involved deaths may be partly attributed to its interaction with opioids, particularly illicit fentanyls, highlighting the dangers of polysubstance use during the pandemic.


The findings suggest that gabapentin is increasingly a factor in overdose deaths, emphasizing the need for its routine testing in drug overdose investigations to fully assess its impact.

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