Overdose deaths are declining in some states, and they appear to be plateauing in Connecticut.
In data released by the CDC, covering the time period July 2016-June 2017, 14 states showed a decline in overdose deaths, while nationwide deaths rose 14 percent. The data showed an 15.9% increase in Connecticut, but even more recent data released from the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s office tells a more promising story.
While deaths increased by 11.7 percent in Connecticut between 2016 and 2017, the last six months of 2017 showed a 8.7% decrease from the first six months of the year.
This is still a horrendously high level of overdose death, and it may only represent a temporary lull before escalating, but it does reflect what I have been sensing lately. Over the last several months, 911 calls for overdoses are still abundant, but they don’t seem to be getting worse.
As to why the death rate may have plateaued, it is an open guess. The increased availability of community Naloxone may be a contributor. Also, perhaps, the knowledge that much of the heroin in Connecticut is either heroin (and cut) laced with Fentanyl or just plain cut and Fentanyl, has caused users to use more caution, doing test shots and making certain they are using with someone else, and have Naloxone available. Without better data, it is hard to say for sure. At any rate, the decline in the latter half of 2017 is at least promising.
Graphs by P. Canning based on Medical Examiner’s data and published news stories.
(Note: These graphs were updated on March 1 to refelect Medical Examiner’s official number released on this day. They were slightly different from previously published news reports.)