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Drug Overdoses in 2018 Compared to 2017

The number of fatal drug overdoses nationwide has fallen for six consecutive months, fueling hopes that the downturn marks not just a reprieve but a long-lasting shift in the tide of the addiction crisis.

Annual U.S. drug overdoses have been tracking upward for nearly four decades, and the rate of growth increased sharply in the last few years with the onset of the opioid epidemic.

But in the 12-month period ending in March 2018 — the most recent span for which data are available — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a decline of 2.8 percent in the number of overdose deaths, to an estimated 71,073 people, compared with the 12 months ending in September 2017.

While opioids overall continue to drive the bulk of deaths, killing an estimated 48,400 people from April 2017 to March 2018, the number of fatal opioid overdoses fell by 2.3 percent compared with the year ending in September 2017. The decline was caused by a drop in the number of overdose deaths from both heroin and “natural and semi-synthetic opioids,” a category that includes most prescription opioids. Still, ominous signs lurk in the CDC data. The ongoing addiction crisis is not limited to opioids, and cocaine and stimulants — a group that includes methamphetamine — are each now killing more than 10,000 people a year, a threshold they only crossed in the past few years.

There a number of reasons that have caused this increase in drug overdose deaths. These reasons include the likes of, increased availability of prescription drugs, tendency of doctors to overprescribe drugs, prescription of wrong antibiotics and increased usage of recreational drugs, etc.

According to average statistics, the death rate in 2017 was 6.1 out of every 100,000, while in 2018 was 13.1 out of 100,000. Meanwhile, the death rates according to states were as follows. West Virginia faced the highest death toll, that was 32 deaths out of 100,000, Kentucky had 25 deaths, New Mexico had 24.7, Utah 23.1 and finally Nevada faced a death toll of 21 out of 100,000 people per annum.

From among these, the death toll related to heroin overdose had nearly tripled as it rose to 1.9 per 100,000 in 2018 as compared to 2017. This numbered to almost 6000 deaths per year. There was also an idea in the study that said prescription drugs were comparatively less dangerous. But this notion in itself can put people at a higher risk of overdoses.

In addition, the researchers claimed that there is no direct method to reverse the drug overdose trend; however, more education for the patients and the prescribers can help much in this regard. In addition, there is no such thing as prescription monitoring for patients in the States, which makes it easier for the patients to seek out help from a number of doctors and get multiple prescriptions especially when they want to use those drugs for recreational purposes.

It is hence highly advised that drug prescriptions be monitored in the countries with overdose deaths. These especially include the Americas. In addition, research and development is required in other states including developing and underdeveloped nations to avoid drug overdoses. Also, the DEA and FDA should keep better lookouts for people who OD on recreational drugs. The excessive use of Ecstasy in this decade has been clearly notable due to the deaths on concerts, clubs, raves and dance parties throughout the world.

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