Overdose deaths declined in the US for the first time in five years - TAI News
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A package of Narcan (Naloxone) nasal spray opioid overdose reversal medication photographed in a pharmacy in Remington, Virginia, on January 25, 2018. (Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Fatal drug overdoses in the United States declined in 2023 for the first time in five years, largely driven by a decrease in the number of opioid overdoses, according to data released May 15 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC data estimated that there were 107,543 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2023, down from 111,029 the year prior. That amounts to a 3% drop.

Opioid deaths dropped nearly 4%, falling from 84,181 at the end of 2022 to 81,032 at the end of 2023. 

“Today’s data showing a decrease in drug overdoses over the 12-month period through December 2023 is heartening news for our nation and demonstrates we are making progress to prevent deaths from drug overdoses,” CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deb Houry said in a statement. “The decrease is a testament to the hard work by all of our partners in this effort and the work being done on the ground as part of a coordinated federal effort on prevention, services, and harm reduction.”

Pennsylvania saw a 9% decline in the number of overdose deaths, which fell from 5,248 at the end of 2022 to 4,764 at the end of 2023. 

The number of opioid deaths had been steadily increasing over the past few decades, but took a particularly grim turn in 2020, when they surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Members of Congress and the Biden administration have been working to come up with solutions to help end the opioid use epidemic.

On April 24, President Joe Biden signed a funding bill that included the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which is intended to crack down on the supply chains that distribute the opioid fentanyl. 

In 2022, the Food and Drug Administration approved naloxone, a nasal spray used to reverse the effects of opioids and treat overdoses, for over-the-counter use. In March, the White House announced an initiative to help businesses train employees all over the country on how to administer naloxone in an effort to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

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