While the fight to end deaths from drug overdoses is far from over, at the very least there’s some good news to the drug epidemic. According to preliminary government data made public this week, the total number of deaths from drug overdoses declined by around 5 percent last year after three decades of ever-escalating deaths.
The decline was due almost entirely to a dip in deaths from prescription opioid painkillers, the medicines that set off the epidemic of addiction that has lasted nearly two decades. With that said, fatal overdoses involving other drugs, particularly fentanyl and methamphetamine, continued to rise. Many in the addiction and law enforcement fields say the overall drop in overdose deaths may be because of a combination of changes in prescribing that have tightened the supply of opioid pills.
More cautious prescribing of opioid painkillers has been a result of numerous limits instituted in many states in recent years. More drug users also have access to treatment and to naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug that has brought back thousands from the brink of death. Hopefully, the decline in overdose deaths is the start of a wider trend.