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For the first time in decades, the number of overdose deaths in the U.S. may finally be falling, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing provisional government data.
Why it matters: That would be a strong and promising sign that the current addiction epidemic — fueled by prescription opioids, heroin and illegal fentanyl — has at least stopped getting worse.
- Yes, but: This progress is tenuous, and one year will not make up for the 30-year rise in overdose deaths. While life-saving drugs to reverse the immediate effects of an overdose have become much more widely available, access to longer-term addiction treatment is still wanting. One other grim explanation, the Journal notes, "is that some of the most vulnerable people have already been killed."
Go deeper: The hot spots of the opioid epidemic