Fatal drug overdoses in the US declined by 5.1 percent in 2018, according to preliminary official data released Wednesday, the first drop in two decades.
The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers.
“The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America’s united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, though he cautioned the epidemic would not be cured overnight.
The total number of estimated deaths dropped to 68,557 in 2018 against 72,224 the year before, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But that number is still far higher than the 16,849 overdose deaths in 1999, a figure that rose every year until 2017, with a particularly sharp increase seen from 2014 to 2017.
Deaths attributed to natural and semi-synthetic opioids, such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone, which are prescribed as painkillers, saw a drop from 14,926 to 12,757, or 14.5 percent.
That was the steepest drop for any category of drug, though deaths linked to synthetic opioids excluding methadone (drugs like tramadol and fentanyl), continued to rise sharply, while cocaine deaths also increased slightly.
The US opioid epidemic is rooted in decades of over-prescription of addictive painkillers.
The crisis is responsible for about 400,000 deaths involving prescription or illicit opioids, including high-profile victims such as pop icon Prince and rocker Tom Petty.
But there are some signs the tide is beginning to turn as federal and state authorities take on drug giants in court for allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines or for deceptive marketing that downplayed the risks of addiction.
Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia training exercises at ‘The Base’: report
One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.
"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.
"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."
Oklahoma police searching for man who shot Taco Bell employee in dispute over the drive-thru
Police are searching for a man who allegedly shot a Taco Bell employee early Saturday morning.
"The employee was shot in the leg after asking the customer to pull forward in the drive-thru," KFOR-TV reported Saturday. "The customer argued, but eventually pulled forward, and that’s when he pulled out a gun and shot the employee."
‘Not surprised at all that the president sides with the white nationalists’: Native American Congresswoman
One of the first two Native America women blasted President Donald Trump for siding with white nationalists on Saturday.
Following the fatal "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Trump claimed there were "fine people" on both sides when he defended the alt-Right and Neo-Nazi event.
Two years later, Trump has gone even further, blaming only the anti-fascist activists confronting far-right marching in Portland, Oregon in a way that reminds many of the invasion of Charlottesville.
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) was asked about Trump's tweet by CNN's Ana Cabrera.