HOUSTON (KIAH) – Have drug overdose deaths stopped rising in Texas? Preliminary government data suggests they may have, but many experts are urging caution, noting that past plateaus didn’t last.
U.S. overdose death rates began steadily climbing in the 1990s driven by opioid painkillers, followed by waves of deaths led by other opioids like heroin and — most recently — illicit fentanyl. Last year, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses — the highest tally in U.S. history.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released provisional data on what happened through the first six months of 2022. The news appears to be hopeful.
Provisional data indicates U.S. overdose deaths fell three months in a row. The CDC estimated there were about 107,600 overdose deaths for the 12-month period between July 2021 and June 2022. That’s 40 fewer than in the 2021 calendar year.
In Texas, opioid use is still the primary driver of overdose deaths. From 2000 to 2016, the rate of opioid overdose death in Texas increased almost threefold from 1.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2000 to 4.5 deaths per 100,000.
But according to this new 2022 report, Texas is showing a more modest decline in reported overdose deaths compared to national data. In February, there were 4,970 overdose deaths reported. That number lowered to 4,855 in June.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.