Every month, the CDC reports new numbers of overdose deaths by state. They don’t necessarily base their numbers off the calendar year. Rather, they will use the latest data they have and the 12 month-span leading up to it. They then compare those numbers to the same time frame the previous year.
The latest overdose deaths released cover the calendar year of 2017 compared to 2016. As one can imagine, being in the midst of an Opioid epidemic, the numbers across the nation increased 10.2%. However, nine states saw a decrease in deaths. Here they are from least to greatest:
New Mexico — 0.2%
While New Mexico did see a decrease, the percentage itself is negligible. Reporting 494 deaths in 2016 and 493 in 2017. This isn’t necessarily a positive sign of future change, as seen by the percentage or number. At the very least, however, it is one less person who suffered.
Utah — 0.6%
The state of Utah may not seem like it saw a large change, but it already fell from 715 deaths leading up to July 2016. From January to December of 2017, that number had dropped to 646. So, while there isn’t a great decrease from the previous calendar year, Utah is still reducing deaths consistently.
Mississippi — 1.5%
In 2016, Mississippi reached a record high of overdose deaths. The CDC reported 332 people had died from accidental overdose, beating out the previous year’s record high at 211. So, despite that the state did see a decrease to 327, it is still one of Mississippi’s highest rates. Hopefully this is a good sign, but more data will have to be collected before anything can be said definitively.
Massachusetts — 2.9%
The CDC confirmed 2,134 deaths by overdose in 2017 in Massachusetts. While this number is no doubt high, only beaten out by 10 other states, this is actually the lowest it has been since 2014. Massachusetts has been one of the few states to see a regular decline year after year since 2014. So, despite 2.9% seeming like a small number, this is perhaps the most positive change of any on this list.
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After reaching a record high of 346 deaths in 2016, Rhode Island saw its first decrease in nearly a decade the following year. Falling to 333, Rhode Island may be on its way to recovery. The last time there was a decrease was in 2009. Overdose deaths have been steadily climbing every year since then.
Oklahoma — 4%
While preliminary data suggested that overdose deaths were in Oklahoma were continuing to grow, the state turned it around. In the previous report, overdose deaths from the 12 months leading up to July of 2017, had risen by 12%. When compared to the calendar years, however, of 2016 and 2017, deaths actually fell from 803 to 771.
North Dakota — 5%
When looking at straight numbers, some states’ drug crisis will not seem as severe as others. For example, in 2017, more people in Iowa died from overdose than in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska combined. This does not mean that there is less of an issue in these states, they just have smaller populations. Looking at the death rate, calculated by overdose deaths per 100,000 people, Iowa and North Dakota are roughly the same, with 10.9 across Iowa and 10.6 across North Dakota`.
Falling from 136 deaths in 2016 to 128 in 2017, Vermont saw the greatest change in New England. Despite Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s change being in greater numbers. Again, it is easy to dismiss states like Vermont as their number of victims of overdose can’t touch other states. However, the death rate from overdose in Vermont is worse than New York, who had 2,248 overdose deaths in 2016.
Wyoming — 31.2%
Dropping a greater percentage than the eight previous states combined, Wyoming went from 93 reported overdose deaths in 2016 to 64 in 2017. An incredible number, even given the state’s population, this drops death rate from overdose to less than 11.1 per 100,000 across the stats, well below the national average.
Cooper Smith earned his Bachelor’s in Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. While he was initially interested in a career in television, he saw an issue in his community and felt compelled to do something more. Now, he uses his knowledge to reach out to people who may need help and make the public aware of issues we are facing as a society. When he isn’t behind a computer, Cooper travels somewhere new.
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