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Drug OD deaths in NYC jump by 41%

Increase driven by rise in use of heroin and prescription painkillers

Erin Durkin, NY Daily News, Aug 28, 2014

The rate of drug overdose deaths in the city has soared by 41% since 2010, data released Thursday by the city Health Department revealed.

Driven by a rise in heroin and prescription drug abuse, the drug overdose death rate jumped from 8.2 for every 100,000 New Yorkers in 2010 to 11.6 in 2013.

In all, 782 New Yorkers died from accidental overdoses in 2013, up from 541 in 2010, the Health Department said.

The vast majority of the deaths - 77% - involved an opioid such as heroin or prescription pain killers.

The death rate from heroin doubled over the same period, from 3.1 to 6.2 for every 100,000 New Yorkers. Some 420 people overdosed on heroin in 2013, more than double the 209 deaths in 2010.

The Bronx had the highest heroin death rate at 8.8, followed closely by Staten Island at 8.6. Queens saw the sharpest increase, from 1.9 to 4.3.

Residents of poor neighborhoods were still mostly likely to OD on heroin, but rich neighborhoods saw the biggest spike - a 195% jump over three years.

Staten Island, which has experienced an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, had the highest rate of deaths from those drugs in 2013, but after an aggressive effort to target the drugs there the death rate dropped by 32% since 2011.

Meanwhile, prescription drug deaths were on the rise in Brooklyn and Queens, and residents of the wealthiest neighborhoods were most likely to die from the drugs.

“After seeing a troubling increase in opioid overdose deaths in Staten Island, the Department took an aggressive approach to save lives. Over the last two years, the Health Department educated both health care providers and residents on the risks of these highly addictive drugs, and worked with community groups, syringe access programs, and first responders to increase overdose reversals with naloxone,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

“Though we have seen progress in Staten Island, there is still much more work to be done.”

She said the department plans to next bring a similar program to the Bronx.

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