A government report last week showing a decline in overdose deaths last year may signal a more lasting trend, according to The New York Times. The report shows a nearly 4% decrease in deaths from opioids, largely fentanyl.

The decrease in opioid overdose deaths has two main causes, the article notes. The opioid epidemic appears to be following a similar course to other substance epidemics: it enters a market, spreads and then fades away, at least for awhile.

Second, policymakers have increased access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, as well as substance use disorder treatment. With naloxone now increasingly available through police officers and firefighters, libraries, schools, pharmacies and first aid kits, people who overdose are now much likelier to get it quickly enough to save their lives. The federal government has put more money toward addiction treatment through Medicaid and new laws aimed at the crisis, and some states have made treatment more accessible and higher quality.

However, patients can still struggle to pay for treatment, and some programs continue to use practices not supported by science.