U.S. Drug OD Deaths Fall for First Time in Three Decades

Percent change in drug overdose deaths by state

Percent change in drug overdose deaths by state

USA overdose deaths dropped a year ago for the first time in almost two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday, in a sign that a nationwide epidemic of drug-related deaths is abating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its provisional data on illegal drug-related fatalities in the United States. "Lives are being saved, and we're beginning to win the fight against this crisis".

The drop is driven by the reduction in prescription opioid overdose deaths.

However while he described the decline as "encouraging", Mr Azar said "on no account enjoy we declared victory towards the epidemic or dependancy generally". "This crisis developed over two decades and it will not be solved overnight".

Azard added, "HHS will continue to provide the resources and support communities, families, and individuals in our collective efforts to prevent and treat addiction".

The steepest year-over-year declines were recorded in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Maine, Alaska, and South Dakota. And in North Carolina, we're far from finished. Cocaine and methamphetamine deaths also rose significantly past year. "That's a lot, because it was just going up like a rocket".

Opioid prescribing has dropped since the CDC issued opioid prescribing guidelines in early 2016, which resulted both in doctors prescribing fewer opioids as well as insurers providing less coverage for opioids. Synthetic opiates including fentanyl continued to drive tens of thousands of deaths in 2018.

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It can take months for authorities to complete toxicology tests and other elements of a death investigation involving drugs. On the other hand, New Hampshire, another state with a large drug problem, saw a 7.1% decrease. The CDC is expected to report more complete data later this year.

Deadly drug overdose numbers rose yearly from 1999 to 2017, along side a tantalizing spike between 2014 and 2017.

The current overdose epidemic has killed more people than any other in US history, and it had been on a soaring trajectory.

Experts partly blame the overprescription of highly effective and addictive painkillers for the epidemic. "This is the first time in 25 years that overdose deaths will not have increased and have come down a little bit", said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University in MA.

Gradually, many turned to cheaper street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

Deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids - painkillers love morphine, codeine and oxycodone - fell by 14.5%, the sharpest descend for any drug category.

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