New overdose data shows increasing regional discrepancies, some progress

The National Center for Health Statistics has released new drug overdose death counts. The data from June 2016 to July 2017 shows that while the nation saw a 14.4 percent increase in overdose deaths, 14 states saw decreases during the twelve-month reporting period.

The majority of the states with decreases are located in the West. Wyoming saw the largest decrease of 39.4 percent. Washington, Utah, and Alaska all saw decreases of more than 10 percent. Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Arizona also had decreases.

The only two Southeast states with decreases were Mississippi and Tennessee.

The states with the highest increases were located in or around the Rust Belt. DC saw the highest increase in overdose deaths with 45.7 percent.  However, DC only had 319 deaths during the twelve-month period, up from 219. Pennsylvania and Florida, the states with the next highest increases, did have the highest number of overdose deaths. Those two states and Ohio all had more than 5,000 overdose deaths each during the twelve-month period.

However, the decreases in some parts of the country indicate that policies that have been introduced to reduce drug overdoses, especially those caused from prescription opioids, may be working.

In Alaska, which had an 11.2 percent decrease, Governor Bill Walker has made addressing the rates of heroin and opioid abuse one of his priorities through his administration’s Safer Alaska. Gov. Walker has also signed legislation to impose regulations on prescribing opioids that was introduced at his request last year.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order last June to increase the reporting of opioid-related data, allowing state health officials to have information within 24-hours. Arizona had a 1.4 percent decrease in drug overdose deaths.

Both Arizona and Alaska have both declared an emergency over the drug crisis along with Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Florida.

Out of the nearly 67,000 drug overdose deaths from June 2016 to July 2017, almost 45,000 were attributed to opioids.

StateNumber of Overdose Deaths for 12-Month Period Ending July 2016Number of Overdose Deaths for 12-Month Period Ending July 2017Percent Change
United States58,52566,97214.4
Wyoming9960-39.4
Utah715606-15.2
Washington1,1771,018-13.5
Alaska143127-11.2
Montana127116-8.7
Mississippi319302-5.3
Kansas320306-4.4
Rhode Island333320-3.9
Oregon511492-3.7
California4,8164,674-2.9
Tennessee1,5521,514-2.4
Massachusetts2,0732,028-2.2
Arizona1,4211,401-1.4
Hawaii193192-0.5
New Mexico4975010.8
Nevada7237331.4
Michigan1,9501,9922.2
Arkansas3783872.4
Nebraska1181212.5
North Carolina1,8161,8652.7
New Hampshire4414594.1
Louisiana9621,0034.3
Texas2,7312,8584.7
Maine3343535.7
Minnesota6456856.2
New York2,0842,2457.7
Idaho2182357.8
Colorado9281,0108.8
Wisconsin1,0041,0928.8
Illinois2,2612,4839.8
Iowa30433510.2
Oklahoma75284412.2
Kentucky1,3761,56814
Missouri1,1921,36714.7
Connecticut9061,05015.9
Georgia1,2701,47516.1
Alabama68180217.8
Virginia1,2141,43718.4
South Carolina82297418.5
South Dakota637519
New York City1,2511,49319.3
West Virginia80998822.1
Vermont11013926.4
North Dakota658327.7
Indiana1,3831,76727.8
Maryland1,7582,25928.5
New Jersey1,6952,28434.7
Delaware23332037.3
Ohio3,7635,23239
Florida3,9735,54039.4
Pennsylvania3,7975,44343.4
District of Columbia21931945.7