County of Ventura Medical Examiner's Office

Special Report: 2021 Fatal Overdoses


Download full report

2,127 deaths were reported to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office during calendar year 2021. Jurisdiction was accepted for 1061 of these deaths, requiring further investigation and certification. Postmortem examinations were performed on 785 cases. Of the cases investigated, 289 deaths were due to overdose with medications, alcohol and or illicit drugs.

Of the 289 deaths, 269 were accidents, 15 were suicides and five deaths were of undetermined manner. Of these overdose deaths, men accounted for 215 deaths (74%) and women accounted for 74 deaths (26%).

Multiple drugs or medications may be involved in one case; therefore, one should not add the numbers of individual substances. The same case may be represented multiple times by different drugs or drug categories. Overdose by city reflects the location of injury (overdose). In some cases, the location of death is different than the city of injury because of transport to a medical facility prior to death.

Noteworthy trends:

  1. The total number of overdoses in 2021 represent a 33% increase compared to 2020 and a 94% increase compared to 2019.
  2. Fentanyl is largely responsible for the increased number of overdose deaths over the past two years. Methamphetamine related overdoses also increased significantly in 2021.
  3. The highest number of overdose deaths in 2021 were between ages 51 to 60 years (65 deaths). The highest number of fentanyl overdose deaths were between ages 31 to 40 (45 deaths).

Click here to download the full report