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CDC says Indiana overdose death decrease second-best nationally

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(The Center Square) – The numbers may only be preliminary, but new federal data shows Indiana had one of the nation’s steepest declines in drug overdose deaths last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 2,190 overdose deaths in Indiana last year. That’s compared to the 2,666 reported in 2022. In the CDC’s report, the Hoosier State’s 17.9% decline was the second largest, behind only Nebraska, which saw a 24.7% decrease.

Indiana was one of four states reporting a drop of at least 15%. Kansas (16%) and Maine (15.9%) were the others. Nationally, the CDC said overdose fatalities were down 3.1%.

CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deb Houry called the report “heartening” and a sign that progress is being made.

“The decrease is a testament to the hard work by all of our partners in this effort and the work being done on the ground as part of a coordinated federal effort on prevention, services, and harm reduction,” Houry said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statement Thursday lauding the numbers. He said reducing the number of such fatalities has been a priority during his two terms in office.

The state’s actions over the last seven years include a nearly fourfold increase in the number of resident treatment beds, with 2,900 now available statewide. The number of outpatient treatment providers has also grown by 8%.

“Hours after I was sworn in as governor in 2017, I signed an executive order creating a new cabinet-level position in state government dedicated to reversing the trend of overdose deaths,” Holcomb said. “In the seven years since, Indiana has taken thoughtful steps to address this epidemic. This encouraging trend underscores the collective efforts and strategic initiatives implemented to combat substance use throughout our great state.”

Both Holcomb and Houry also noted there are still many people who died or remain addicted and that additional measures are still necessary.

Regionally, Indiana’s neighboring states also reported declines that topped the national rate. Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio were ranked 16th to 18th, with decreases of 8.1%, 8% and 7.9%, respectively.

Michigan’s 3.2% decline was good for 32nd.

The CDC did note in the report that the figures were “underreported due to incomplete data.” The federal agency said that is standard language any time provisional data is used. In some cases, local jurisdictions may still be investigating cases where an overdose is eventually determined to be the cause. However, the CDC uses a “multiplication factor” to create what are called “predicted provisional counts” that take such delays into consideration and says it can identify recent trends with potentially sharper accuracy.

“It is important to note that flat or declining numbers of drug overdose deaths (either reported or predicted) could be due to incomplete data, true decreases in the number of deaths or a combination of the two,” the CDC’s report stated. “True declines or plateaus in the numbers of drug overdose deaths across the U.S. cannot be ascertained until final data become available.”

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