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Press Room

First Decline in Drug Overdose Deaths in Nearly Three Decades

Statement from Daliah Heller, Director of the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies

A new report from the CDC finds a slight decline in drug overdose deaths in 2018, the first in nearly three decades.  Harm reduction strategies have played an important role in the reduction of overdose deaths. The increased availability of medication treatments like methadone and buprenorphine, the expansion of syringe access programs and the widespread distribution of the opioid antidote reversal drug naloxone have all saved lives.

Overdose deaths are still twice what they were a decade ago and three times what they were 20 years ago.

“A slight decline in fatal overdoses is welcome but it’s no time to celebrate. This marks a dangerous moment in the U.S. overdose epidemic. We can’t let this data create a perception of a turnaround. For rapid and significant progress, we need a comprehensive harm reduction approach. Every overdose is preventable and we must remain vigilant in our work to transform systems at every level.”

Vital Strategies is leading an initiative to prevent overdose deaths by partnering with governments and affected communities in Pennsylvania and Michigan to build tailored, science-backed solutions. The program is funded by a $50 million investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies and in partnership with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the CDC Foundation. 

Media Contacts
Tony Newman; (646)-335-5384

Christina Honeysett; (914) 424-3356