The rate of drug overdose deaths has slowed from record-high levels, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC estimated that there have been 107,735 predicted overdose deaths in the 12-month period that ended on July 2022.
If the numbers are confirmed, this would be the ninth month in a row that the rate of increasing overdose deaths has slowed, and the fourth month in a row that there has been a decrease in 12-month rolling totals, the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
The highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded was for the 12-month period ending in March 2022: Provisional data estimated that there had been over 110,000 deaths in that period. The new numbers from the CDC mark a 2.27% decrease from that high.
However, overdose deaths still remain shockingly high: According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths rose by 31% from 2019 to 2020, when 91,799 people died. The increase in overdose deaths has been attributed to the impact of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, in the nation’s drug supply. The CDC has also noted an increase in methamphetamine-related deaths and polysubstance use.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement that President Biden’s administration remains focused on “getting more people with addiction connected to the care they need” and preventing fatal overdoses with naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, as well as targeting drug distributors. The administration also recently announced a dashboard that will track non-fatal overdoses.
“To strengthen our Nation’s response, this past week, we launched a first-of-its-kind data dashboard to track non-fatal overdoses – a leading predictor for a future fatal overdose – that will help first responders, service providers, and policymakers save lives. All of these actions are critical to beating the overdose epidemic,” Gupta said.
According to the dashboard, there have been over 175,000 non-fatal overdoses in the past 365 days, marking a 2% decrease nationwide.