Number of United States overdose deaths appears to be falling
Published 8:16 am Thursday, July 18, 2019
NEW YORK — U.S. overdose deaths last year likely fell for the first time in nearly three decades, preliminary statistics suggest.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday posted the provisional numbers showing nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year. The number may go up as more investigations are completed, but the agency expects the tally will end up below 69,000.
Overdose deaths had been climbing each year since 1990, topping 70,000 in 2017.
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The numbers were celebrated by the U.S. secretary of health and human services. “Lives are being saved, and we’re beginning to win the fight against this crisis,” Alex Azar wrote in a tweet.
But the overdose death rate is still about seven times higher than it was a generation ago.
“We’re still in a pretty sad situation that we need to address,” said Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan researcher.
Researchers do not believe this is the start of a dramatic decline. Data from the first months of this year likely will show the decrease lessen a bit rather than accelerate, said Farid Ahmad of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.