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Drug Overdose Deaths Are Down For the First Time in 3 Decades

Written by Joy Youell

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling 888-648-0738 now.

Updated 08/06/2021

For the first time in 30 years, deaths from drug overdose have declined, according to a recent study.

The National Vital Statistics System released provisional numbers that provide statistical evidence that deaths from drug overdose have declined for the first time in 30 years. Mortality data indicates a decrease of 3.4% for overall numbers of drug overdose deaths in the United States between January 2018 and January 2019.

The criteria in this report for drug overdose deaths include the categorization of death by drugs as unintended, suicide, homicide or undetermined. The drugs that are included as causes of death are:

  • Heroin
  • Opioid analgesics such as morphine and codeine
  • Semisynthetic opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Synthetic opioids other than methadone such as fentanyl
  • Psychostimulants including methamphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Opium
  • Unspecified narcotics

Multiple drugs may be present at the time of death or post-mortem reporting to be included in this categorization. Drugs may also be present in toxicology reports of people who have died from other causes, in which case the cause of death determination would be at the discretion of the medical professional.

Drug Use Trends

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published the results from a 2017 survey on drug use. Identified nationwide substance abuse trends included:

  • 49.5% of people surveyed have used illicit drugs in their lifetime
  • 19% of people surveyed had used illicit drugs within the past year
  • 11.2% of people surveyed had used illicit drugs within the past month

Marijuana, cocaine, and psychotherapeutics (primarily pain relievers) were the primary sources of misuse, along with opioids and heroin.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) tracks trends of substance abuse that presents issues for law enforcement and community officials to be aware of. Some of the issues that have surfaced in 2019 include:

The ongoing initiation of new drug compounds and uses into drug subcultures presents a constant challenge for lawmakers, law enforcement officials and people who struggle with addiction. For as many new drugs and new drug abuse strategies, there are also effective drug prevention strategies that are providing people with help.

Effective Drug Prevention Strategies

Addiction prevention has taken multiple new forms since the initiation of widespread opioid addiction in the United States. According to research funded by the NIDA, prevention programs should include the following elements:

  • Protect the person struggling with addiction
  • Provide relapse prevention
  • Address every kind of drug abuse, including different drugs and the different ways they are used
  • Programs should provide specific support to cohorts of people who struggle with addiction, taking into account unique needs related to age or gender
  • Parenting and family-oriented counseling should play a role in the treatment

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction?

Our Recovery Advocates are available 24/7 to help.

Addiction recovery is a highly personal experience, and the strategies that work for each individual will vary. There are many ways to find effective drug treatment. The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can provide many resources to help you explore the right treatment for you or someone you love. Reach out to a representative today for more information.

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