Total drug overdose deaths in America declined by around 5 percent last year, the first drop since 1990.
Drug overdose deaths, 1980 to 2018 Data through 2017 is based on final reported mortality totals.
Even with the shift, the number of overdose deaths in 2018, more than 68,000, still exceeded the nation’s peak annual deaths from car crashes, AIDS or guns.
A small portion of the increase in deaths attributable to a specific drug may be due to improved cause-of-death reporting.
Prescription painkillers were the main cause of overdose deaths until heroin, and then fentanyl, surpassed them over the last decade.
More drug users also have access to treatment and to naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug that has brought back thousands from the brink of death.
In Pennsylvania, where deaths had surged as fentanyl reached the drug supply, overdose deaths fell by an estimated 18 percent. »