CDC reports U.S. drug overdose deaths drop for first time in 5 year

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign in Atlanta

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month reported that drug overdose deaths in 2023 dropped 3%. The last time the number of drug overdose deaths dropped was in 2018, when it declined only slightly after steadily increasing since 2015, according to the CDC’s data.

Did the pandemic have any effect on drug overdose rates? After the slight dropoff in 2018, overdose deaths remained largely plateaued throughout 2019. Starting around January 2020, however, drug overdoses began steadily increasing again until dropping again slightly last year.

What did overdose death numbers look like in different parts of the country? Not every state experienced a decrease in deaths, and some saw increases. One of the states with the largest increase last year was Oregon, which largely decriminalized the possession and use of many drugs. Earlier this year, Oregon recriminalized many of those same drugs after witnessing a significant spike in overdose deaths.

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Neighboring California, Idaho, and Washington also reported increases in drug overdose deaths last year. Closer to the East Coast, West Virginia, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. also experienced an increase in overdose deaths.

Nebraska and Indiana led the nation with the most significant overdose death decreases. Kansas, Maine, and North Carolina were also among several states that reported notable decreases.

Where did these numbers come from? According to the CDC, the numbers are provisional and based on mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), which tracks births, deaths, marriages and divorces across the country.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2024, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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