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Overdose Deaths Declined during 2023, but Crisis Continues

May 23, 2024

For the first time since 2018, the U.S. reported a decline in drug overdose deaths last year, according to preliminary data released this month.

While provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics offered some hopeful signs, public health officials warned the overdose crisis continues.

“However, this does not mean we have accomplished our mission,” Deb Houry, CDC chief medical director, said in a statement. “The data show we still lost over 100,000 people last year; meaning, there are still families and friends losing their loved ones to drug overdoses at staggering numbers. This progress over the last 12 months should make us want to reinvigorate our efforts knowing that our strategies are making a difference.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • By the numbers:  “There were an estimated 107,543 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2023—a 3 percent decrease from the 111,029 deaths estimated in 2022.
  • In Pennsylvania:  The commonwealth saw a 9.2 percent decline in drug overdose deaths (4,764) during 2023, but additional reporting is likely to increase the total for last year.
  • In other states:  Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and Maine saw declines of 15 percent or more. Alaska, Washington, and Oregon had increases above 27 percent when compared to 2022.
  • National plan:  Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a national strategy to combat overdoses, with a central focus on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.
  • Quotable:  “We are encouraged to see the preliminary data that shows a decrease in the overdose death rate for the first time in five years, especially following the period of rapid double-digit increases from 2019–2021,” Dr. Rahul Gupta, White House drug control policy director, said in a statement.

Additional information about the provisional data is available online.