Estimates show that the number of fatal overdoses in the US has fallen for the first time in five years

Deaths from overdoses fell in the United States last year as fewer people lost their lives to fentanyl and other opioids. This was the first time in five years that the death toll fell, according to recently released estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal officials said the numbers show a 3% decline in estimated overdose deaths from 2022 to 2023. That downturn equates to nearly 3,500 fewer deaths in the U.S. than the year before.

The new figures are provisional and may still be updated. Even a small drop could be a balm for a country where drug overdoses have taken a devastating toll: In one survey, more than 40% of adults said they knew someone who lost their life to a drug overdose, according to a survey. Edge study published this year.

Community groups and health officials grappling with fentanyl's devastating toll have pushed to equip more people with naloxone, a drug that can stop opioid overdoses and is commonly sold as a nasal spray under the brand name Narcan. Los Angeles County officials, for example, credited the effort to distribute Narcan on the streets when they announced last week that overdose deaths among the homeless had stopped.

But even as U.S. deaths from fentanyl and other opioids fell from 2022 to 2023, the country saw a rise in deaths from stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the new estimates.

And not all parts of the country saw an overall decline in fatal overdoses. “On the East Coast and in the Midwest we are seeing declines, but on the West Coast – especially in the upper Northwest – we are still seeing increases,” said Farida Ahmad, a health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The federal figures show that the estimated number of overdose deaths in California continued to rise in 2023 compared to 2022, with an increase of 4.1%. In Oregon and Washington, the increases were significantly steeper.

Drug use can vary from region to region, leading to overdoses and deaths: Fentanyl hit the eastern US for spread westwardand methamphetamine use has been general more common on the west coast.

The federal estimates released Wednesday do not indicate how many methamphetamine-related deaths also involved other drugs, a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common. growing attention as American mixed drugs, both consciously and unconsciously. For example, in LA County, a recent report indicated that in 2022, nearly half of overdose deaths among homeless people involved both methamphetamine and fentanyl.

As it stands now, there are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat meth addiction, although some existing medications have shown promising results, as well as offering incentives such as gift cards for people to get off stimulants to stay.

Americans looked for any sign of hope during the overdose crisis, but experts did warned against declaring victory too early in response to annual changes in overdose deaths.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, for example found it that the last time fatal overdoses fell nationwide in 2018, the downturn coincided with stricter regulations in China for carfentanil, a highly potent synthetic opioid. The following year, drug overdose deaths rose again.

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