(Reuters) - The number of deaths from drug overdose fell 3% to 107,543 in 2023 from the previous year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Wednesday.

States including Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana and Maine saw declines of 15% or more in such deaths, mostly from opioids, while Alaska, Washington and Oregon reported notable increases of at least 27% compared to 2022, the data showed.


This is the first annual decrease in the deaths since 2018, according to the CDC, amid a push by President Joe Biden's administration for action to tackle drug addiction and overdoses.

Fentanyl is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States, which alleges that China is the primary source of the precursor chemicals synthesized into fentanyl by drug cartels in Mexico.


The U.S. drug overdose death toll crossed the 100,000-mark for the first time in 2021, when the COVID pandemic resulted in more isolation among drug users and disruption of emergency medical care.

Increased availability of lethal drugs such as fentanyl and powerful synthetic versions had further worsened the situation, according to government data.


The new data shows deaths involving opioids decreased from an estimated 84,181 in 2022 to 81,083 in 2023.

Deaths related to synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, decreased in 2023 compared to 2022, as per the data.

Estimated deaths due to cocaine rose to 29,918 in 2023 from 28,441, while those from psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, increased last year to 36,251 from 35,550 in 2022, CDC data showed.


"The data show we still lost over 100,000 people last year; meaning, there are still families and friends losing their loved ones to drug overdoses at staggering numbers," CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deb Houry said in a statement.

"This progress over the last 12 months should make us want to reinvigorate our efforts knowing that our strategies are making a difference," Houry said.

(Reporting by Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)