The state Office of the Medical Examiner yesterday released the final overdose deaths numbers for 2022, showing a 4.7% decrease in all overdose deaths and a 5.2% decrease in opioid deaths. This is better news than another increase but is still 5.7% above the 2020 overdose death number and 5.1% above the 2020 number for opioid overdose deaths.
In 2018, we saw a decrease in overdose and opioid deaths, but that pause was short-lived. Is this another short-lived dip? Is it an astonishingly high plateau? Or the true beginning of a decline? Let’s hope it is the latter.
Here are some other statistics from the data release:
Fentanyl was present in 93.6% of all opioid overdose deaths. Heroin was present in just 9.3% of opioid overdose deaths. Heroin and fentanyl were present together in 8.8% of opioid overdose deaths, which means heroin without fentanyl was only present in 0.5% of opioid deaths.
Cocaine was present in 47.1% of all overdose deaths, and present in 47.8% of all fentanyl deaths.
Benzodiazepines were found in 18.4% of all opioid deaths.
Xylazine was present in 24.2% of all overdose deaths. (The number in opioid deaths was not reported.)
The Opioid Overdose (Poisoning) Epidemic is still raging and deserves our full attention. Support Harm Reduction and Treatment. Revisit the War on Drugs to consider Decriminalization. Recognize illicit Fentanyl makes all drug use unsafe for people using alone. Establish Overdose Prevention Sites. Educate and End Stigma.