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Drug overdose deaths down since late 2017


Overall drug overdose deaths may have peaked at the end of last year, as the most recent data show a drop of almost 3% in 12-month ending counts from November 2017 to March 2018, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Change in drug overdose deaths for 12-month ending periods

Longer-term data, however, show an increase over the year from March 2017 to March 2018, as the short-term decrease was not enough to overcome the previous year’s increase. The provisional 12-month ending count – deaths during the 12-month period ending in the month indicated – went from 66,859 in March 2017 to 68,690 in March 2018, an increase of 2.7%, the NCHS reported.

That year-long increase was not spread evenly among the states. Nebraska’s 12-month ending count jumped over 48% from March 2017 to March 2018, more than twice as much as second-place Hawaii’s 20.9%. Montana had the largest drop over that year, –24.2%, with Wyoming next at –20.7% and the District of Columbia third at –14.8%, data from the National Vital Statistics System show.

“Provisional drug overdose death data are often incomplete,” the NCHS noted, “and the degree of completeness varies by jurisdiction and 12-month ending period. Consequently, the numbers of drug overdose deaths are underestimated, based on provisional data relative to final data and are subject to random variation.”

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