New data suggests that for the first time in three decades, drug overdose deaths in the US are falling.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional numbers recently that show overdose deaths have dropped. Their figures show around 68,000 deaths from drug overdose in 2018. The agency stated that even if the final confirmed number is high, it would be below 69,000.
This is major news as overdose deaths have risen every year since 1990. They reached a peak in 2017 with 70,000 overdose deaths. From 2014-2017, overdose deaths increased by 5,000 or more each year.
A major reason for the decline in 2018 was fewer deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers. The US has been cracking down on heroin smuggling and closed many pill mills a few years ago. However, while heroin and prescription opioids were down, overdose deaths from fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamines increased.
As great as it is that the number of overdose deaths is dropping, the US’s drug overdose death rate is still seven times higher than it was a generation ago. The US is still very much in the midst of a drug overdose crisis, and this has been the deadliest one in the nation’s history.