In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from drug overdose go down for the first time in nearly thirty years, ever since America started its fight against a massive addiction epidemic that took hundreds of lives only in the last one decade.
“The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America’s united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “Lives are being saved, and we’re beginning to win the fight against this crisis.”
Prescription opioid painkillers, which have been the leading cause behind the ongoing crisis, have also caused less fatalities than ever before. The numbers this year has gone down to 12,757 from 14,926 deaths in 2017. But on the other hand, stimulants like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl have taken its place.
Fentanyl, which caused less than 6,000 deaths in 2014 have been responsible for as many as 32,000 overdoses last year. This powerful street drug had outranked prescription opioids as the topmost lethal overdose substance back in 2015.
There have been several efforts at a national level to fight the crisis at a grassroots level, like regulated prescribing of opioids by medical practitioners. Authorities have also gone to lengths to secure possession of opioid reversal drug naloxone. Narcan, the nasal spray version of the drug, is supposed to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose if taken in time, but it does not work on any of the stimulants.
“The addiction crisis in America is not solved,” said Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California’s Institute for Addiction Science. “It has morphed into a polysubstance use crisis. Something we need to be really concerned about is the increase in stimulant-related deaths, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and other amphetamine derivatives.”