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US Drug Overdose Deaths Declined for First Time in 5 Years: Daily Dose

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US Drug Overdose Deaths Declined for First Time in 5 Years: Daily Dose / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.


On May 22, 2024, we reported on provisional drug overdose death data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the CDC.

The findings

There were an estimated 107 543 drug overdose-related deaths during the 12-month period ending December 2023, which is a decrease of approximately 3% from the 111 029 deaths documented in the 12 months ending in December 2022. This is the first annual decrease in drug overdose deaths since 2018.

The decrease included an estimated 3098 fewer deaths involving opioids year over year and approximately 1500 fewer that involved synthetic opioids, predominantly fentanyl. During the same period, however, the provisional data reflect an increase in overdose deaths due to cocaine (28 441 to 29 918) and a smaller but concerning increase due to psychostimulants (35 550 to 36 251).

A more granular look at the NCHS data reveals uneven success against drug overdose deaths across the country with some states experiencing significant decreases in 2023 vs 2022. For example Nebraska, Kansas, Maine and Indiana saw declines of at least 15%. Other states saw “notable” increases, with Washington, Alaska and Oregon experiencing an increase in deaths of 27% or more.

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