Overdose deaths have fallen for 6 months. Is it temporary or a sign of a corner turned?
CDC reported a 2.8% decline in the number of U.S. overdose deaths to an estimated 71,073 people in the year ending in March 2018, compared with the year ending in September 2017.
CDC reported a 2.8% decline in the number of U.S. overdose deaths to an estimated 71,073 people in the year ending in March 2018, compared with the year ending in September 2017. This indicates 6 straight months of decline, although public health experts caution against making firm conclusions based on this data. Most fatalities are still driven by opioids overall, with approximately 48,400 deaths recorded from April 2017 to March 2018. However, the number of deadly opioid overdoses slipped 2.3% compared with the year ending in September 2017, due to a drop in the number of deaths from both heroin and "natural and semi-synthetic opioids." Despite this, the CDC data indicates the continuing addiction crisis is not restricted to opioids, and cocaine and stimulants such as methamphetamine are causing more than 10,000 deaths each year. Experts have forecast that any persistent downturn in overdose deaths would begin with a modest plateauing and then cresting of the curve that measures fatal overdoses over time, and CDC's analysis corroborates that pattern. Northwestern University's Leo Beletsky cites two key insights from these findings. "One is that we are not out of the woods yet, since these rates are still sky high," he says. "[And] we need to be doing much more of what works to get the rates down further."