January 30, 2020


CONTACT: JOHAN MARULANDA / jm3245@georgetown.edu


Today, the National Center for Health Statistics released reports on 2018 Mortality in the United States and 2018 Drug Overdose Deaths.

Regina LaBelle, Director of the Addiction & Public Policy Initiative at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute, and former Obama Administration official in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in reaction to the reports:

“The slight decrease we’re seeing in drug overdose death rates in 2018 (4.6% decline from 2017) is a positive sign, as is the halt to the decrease in life expectancy in the US. But we’re still a long way from declaring victory in our efforts to stem overdose death and addiction in this country.”

The report showed that in 5 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, the drug overdose death rate decreased from 2017 to 2018. That’s a positive sign. But in a majority of states, drug overdose death rates stayed the same; we’re in a holding pattern in the majority of states.”

“Overdose mortality rates also aren’t the only consequence of the nation’s addiction epidemic. For example, we’re continuing to see increases in infectious disease due to injection drug use and a lack of sterile syringe availability. And parts of the country are seeing increasing rates of methamphetamine availability and use. Targeted approaches are needed to respond to the unique needs of each part of the country.”

“We’re just at the beginning of a much longer term effort to change the way we treat addiction in this country. Today’s mortality and overdose data are encouraging and are the result of years of hard work. But it will be many more years before we can say the nation’s policies truly embrace addiction as a public health issue.”

To arrange an interview with Regina LaBelle, please contact Johan Marulanda at jm3245@georgetown.edu.