Kentucky officials are reporting the first statewide drop in drug overdose deaths since 2013.
A report issued Thursday says 1,333 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, down from a record 1,566 deaths the prior year. The decline follows years of steady increases in the death toll, driven mostly by surges in opioid abuse, heroin and fentanyl.
The report was issued by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
Its executive director, Van Ingram, points to education and treatment programs along with other "harm-reduction" initiatives as factors in the lower death toll.
Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley says that while the numbers are "trending down," the state still faces "incredible challenges."
The report says the largest drop in fatal overdoses occurred in Jefferson County — Kentucky's most populous county.