Preliminary numbers released by the state indicate the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Alaska fell between 2017 and 2018.
Andy Jones, director of the state Office of Substance Misuse and Addiction Prevention, told a Senate committee Thursday that this suggests steps being taken to address opioid abuse are working.
"Something's working," Jones said, adding later: "It is exciting news to see this trend."
But Jones said there is more work to do.
The preliminary data showed there were 100 opioid-related overdose deaths in Alaska in 2017 and 58 last year.
In 2017, then-Gov. Bill Walker declared opioid abuse a public health disaster, and the Legislature approved issuance of a standing medical order for a naloxone distribution program through June 2021. Naloxone can help prevent overdose.
The state has passed a law addressing opioid prescriptions; sued opioid manufacturers, including the company that makes the prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin; and taken steps on prevention, treatment and enforcement.