The number of Americans dying from opioid overdoses is beginning to plateau, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said this week.
Opioid overdose deaths rose from 64,000 in 2016 to 72,000 in 2017. Azar cited new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show that toward the end of 2017, the number of Americans dying from opioid overdoses began to level off, a trend that has continued into 2018.
Azar said the numbers are “finally bending in the right direction,” but noted the trend is “hardly a victory…We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps, at the end of the beginning.” He added, “Simply put, America has prescribed, and still prescribes, a stunning amount of potentially addictive pain medications.”
How to Use Naloxone to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Save Lives
A variety of drugs and drug combinations carry the risk of fatal overdose. Emergency protocol for any suspected overdose includes calling 911. However, in the case of opioids, which includes heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) can reverse an overdose, potentially saving a loved one’s life.