There has been a great deal of analysis in the national media in the last week about the most recent provisional overdose death count released by the CDC. For the nation as a whole, it found a year over year increase of 6.6%. For Kentucky, provisional data shows that we are still increasing in total number of overdose deaths but a) at a slower rate than national average, b) at a slower rate than many neighboring states, and c) at a significantly slower rate than the previous two years.
This is positive news and hopefully a sign that we are nearing, or might even be past, the apex for overdose deaths.
The most recent CDC data measures year over year increases ending in January of 2018. From January 2017 to January 2018, Kentucky had 1,528 overdose deaths and increased from 1,480 during the year ending in January 2017. The 3.24% increase for the time period is less than half the national average for year over year increases.
Among neighboring states, Indiana had the highest rate of increase in the time period at 15.1%, well above national average. Five of Kentucky's neighboring states had increases above national average. West Virginia had the second highest increase among neighboring states at 11.2%. Tennessee increased at 10.1%, followed by Illinois at 9.8%, and Ohio at 9.3%. Virginia and Missouri were both below national average with Virginia slightly above Kentucky at 3.5% and Missouri with the lowest year over year increase in the region at just 0.2%.
Twelve states experienced a year over year decrease in overdose deaths. Mississippi was the only Southern state to have a decrease, with 1.8% fewer overdose deaths in the measured time period. Wyoming had the largest decline in the country dropping by 33%.
Of equally positive importance, the rate of increase in overdose deaths slowed significantly in 2017 as compared to the two previous years. Between January 2015 and January 2016, overdoses increased by 13.8% in Kentucky. From January 2016 to January 2017 the increase was an even higher 18.11%. As previously noted, the increase from January 2017 to January 2018 was 3.24%.
One must be careful not to make too many conclusions about the data, a significant amount of additional data is needed to know why Kentucky is seeing a slowdown, but it is hopeful.
Read the CDC's entire report here.