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Drug overdose deaths in the US have fallen for the first time in five years




Drug overdose deaths in the US have fallen for the first time in five years

YOU.S. According to new data, the number of drug deaths has fallen slightly in 2023, the first decline in five years.

There were 107,543 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary statistics released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a decline of about 3% from 2022.

The drop could offer a glimmer of hope amid an otherwise devastating overdose crisis. Americans continue to die at near-record rates, thanks in large part to a toxic drug supply dominated by fentanyl and a rise in polysubstance deaths resulting from concurrent use of opioids and stimulants such as methamphetamine or cocaine.

But after a steady rise over the past decades, any decline is welcome news, even if the end of the drug crisis is still far from in sight. Some public health officials and parts of the Biden administration have emphasized the more positive aspects of recent data, touting, for example, the “flattening” of drug overdose deaths in 2022 — when drug death rates increased only slowly.

Some states had more reason to celebrate, especially in the central US: Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana, as well as Maine, all saw declines in overall drug deaths of 15% or more. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest fared much worse, with Alaska, Washington and Oregon all seeing increases of at least 27%, according to a CDC summary.

The CDC’s initial data from 2023 showed virtually no change in total opioid deaths, a slight decrease in deaths involving fentanyl, and a slight increase in deaths involving meth or cocaine. The agency warned that the data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics was incomplete and subject to change.

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