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Overdose deaths down in the United States, a first since 2018

Photo: Jae C. Hong Archives Associated Press A homeless drug addict, pieces of fentanyl in his hand, in Los Angeles, August 2022.

France Media Agency in Washington

Posted at 10:47 a.m. Updated at 2:32 p.m.

  • United States

The number of drug overdose deaths fell in 2023 in the United States for the first time since 2018, but the country still deplores more than 100,000 deaths per year, the majority of which are linked to fentanyl.

This first decline in five years is “encouraging news for our nation and shows that we are making progress,” said Deb Houry, medical director general of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).< /p>

But “that does not mean that we have accomplished our mission,” she added. This trend “should encourage us to intensify our efforts knowing that our strategies are working,” she added.

Some 107,000 overdose deaths have been recorded in the country last year, compared to more than 111,000 in 2022, a drop of 3%, according to provisional figures announced Wednesday by American health authorities.

The The main culprit in the current overdose crisis in the United States is fentanyl, an extremely powerful and addictive synthetic opioid that began flooding the drug market about a decade ago.

The number of fentanyl-related deaths fell from more than 76,000 in 2022 to just under 75,000 last year.

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“Many factors probably play a role” in this decline, commented for AFP Joseph Friedman, a researcher specializing in this subject at UCLA University in California. In particular “the intensification of treatments against addiction” and “increased access to naloxone”, an antidote making it possible to resuscitate a victim of an opioid overdose, he estimated.

Another explanation may be “the spread of fentanyl” having now “exhausted all the new places to establish itself,” he added.

Disparities by region

According to CDC data, deaths from overdoses involving cocaine or stimulants like methamphetamine have, however, increased.

Strong regional disparities are also noted: while a drop in deaths of 15% or more was observed in the states of Nebraska, Kansas and Maine, an increase on the contrary, at least 27% was recorded in the states of Washington, Alaska and Oregon, all located in the west of the country, according to the authorities.

< p>“While the apparent stabilization of deaths relative to past increases is encouraging, there is no indication that the fundamental structural drivers of this crisis have changed significantly,” warned Joseph Friedman.

“Continued efforts are needed to encourage people exposed to fentanyl to stabilize with safer opioids, such as methadone or buprenorphine,” which can be obtained by prescription, a- he said.

In the spring of 2023, the United States Medicines Agency (FDA) had for the first time authorized the sale without a prescription of naloxone, in the form of 'a nasal spray known by its brand name Narcan.

The opioid crisis began in the 1990s in the United States with the overprescription of opioids supplied to the population via the healthcare system, particularly to treat pain.

When the United States began to drastically regulate their access, part of the population switched to heroin, leading to a rapid increase in deaths linked to this drug starting in 2010.

The third wave began in 2013, with a skyrocketing increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.

Today Today, fentanyl is increasingly “mixed with stimulants,” according to Joseph Friedman, who believes that this trend marks the start of a fourth wave.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116