Opioids to Blame for Soaring Overdose Death Rates in N.Y.

Opioids to Blame for Soaring Overdose Death Rates in N.Y.

News Jun 15, 2017

June 15—Opioids were the main driver of a record number of drug overdose deaths in the city last year, a nearly 50 percent jump from 2015, the Department of Health announced this week.

The overall number of overdose deaths rose from 937 in 2015 to 1,374 last year, a spike of 46.6 percent and the highest number since the DOH started keeping records in the year 2000, the agency's report released Tuesday said.

This is the sixth consecutive rise in overdose deaths, according to the annual data.

"The final overdose data for 2016 confirm what we have feared -- drug overdose deaths have reached a record high and are increasing citywide as the opioid epidemic continues to affect every community," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.

Nearly all of the deaths involved the mixing of drugs, and 82 percent involved an opioid, the report says. Seventy-two percent involved heroin and/or fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, the DOH said.

Fentanyl "drove the increase in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016," the report says.

Staten Island saw the highest rate of drug overdose deaths, with 31.8 deaths per 100,000 residents. The Bronx had the second highest rate with 28.1 deaths per 100,000 residents, but had the highest number of deaths with 308 reported, according to DOH.

The South Bronx had the highest rate of any one neighborhood with a rate of 37.1 per 100,000 residents.

In Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, the rates of deaths were below 20 deaths per 100,000 residents.

The rates were highest among white New Yorkers, the report says.

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Nicole Brown

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