Preliminary data from the state indicates opioid overdose deaths in North Carolina dropped in 2018 for the first time in five years. A press release from the Governor’s Office says the data collected by the state Department of Health and Human Services indicated there were 1785 deaths from opioid-related overdoses in 2018, compared to 1884 in 2017. That’s a drop of five percent. In 2017, deaths increased by 34 percent from the prior year. Emergency department visits for opioid related overdoses also fell in 2018, dropping 10 percent from 2017. Most of the deaths and emergency department visits were due to illegal opioids such as heroin and fentanyl with numbers declining for prescription opioids. An opioid summit in June indicated opioid dispensing fell 24% between 2017 and 2019.