U.S. Recorded Nearly 110,000 Overdose Deaths in 2022

Still, Dr. Ciccarone said, “one can’t be utterly optimistic that this is a signal of a permanent change.” He warned of the continuing trend of overdose deaths among unsuspecting people using counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.

Many of the interventions that the Biden administration has called for in a bid to reduce overdose deaths are loosely organized in a strategy known as “harm reduction,” which encourages the use of tools that make drug consumption safer. President Biden is the first president to endorse the strategy.

A key part of the strategy is naloxone, an overdose-reversing medication that can now be sold over the counter. Nabarun Dasgupta, a scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has researched naloxone use in the United States, said some states that had been particularly aggressive in deploying the medication, such as Arizona, Utah and West Virginia, saw decreases in overdose deaths last year.

An effective addiction treatment for opioid users that can be taken at home, buprenorphine, is now easier to prescribe. But the medication is still significantly underprescribed, including for Black patients, a recent study found.

Drug checking tools, such as fentanyl test strips that alert users to the presence of the drug in a sample, have also saved lives, public health experts say.

“When people know, they can make different choices or safer choices,” said Colleen Daley Ndoye, the executive director of Project Weber/Renew, an organization in Providence, R.I., that works with drug users and distributes fentanyl test strips.

The group plans to open the first supervised drug consumption site legalized by a state early next year. Drug checking machines will most likely be a component of the site, Ms. Daley Ndoye said.

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