Overdose deaths fell in 14 states. In N.J. they surged 35 percent

Overdose deaths fell in 14 states. In N.J. - they surged 35 percent

Overdose deaths are dropping

Drug overdose deaths fell last year in 14 states including Washington, according to preliminary data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers suggest the tide of opioid overdoses is starting to turn in a number of states, mostly in the western United States, driving an overall reduction in overdose deaths. In Washington, the CDC recorded 1,018 fatal overdoses in the 12-month period ending July 2017. Of those, 640 involved opioids, including 289 involving heroin.

That’s a 13.5 per cent decrease in all overdose deaths, and a 16.6 per cent decrease in opioid overdose deaths from the year prior

Midwestern and eastern states that have been hit hardest by opioid overdose deaths continued to see rises, according to the CDC data. The 2017 numbers are likely smaller than final totals will be since data for some deaths is still pending. The Washington Department of Health has not formally released 2016 or 2017 overdose death data, but preliminary 2016 numbers suggest similar drops.

Though the number of total opioid overdoses has fluctuated since 2006, the number of Washingtonians dying from heroin has been steadily rising, from 53 in 2006 to 313 in 2015, according to the department. But in 2016, that number fell to 287. Caleb Banta-Green, the primary researcher with the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, said there’s not enough data yet to speculate about a cause in the drop. Full Story

Overdose deaths and Drugs

The epidemic of drug overdoses, often perceived as a largely white rural problem, made striking inroads among black Americans last year — particularly in urban counties where fentanyl has become widespread.

Although the steep rise in 2016 drug deaths has been noted previously, these are the first numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to break down 2016 mortality along geographic and racial lines. They reveal that the drug death rate is rising most steeply among blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64 among the hardest hit. Drug deaths among blacks in urban counties rose by 41 per cent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group.

In those same counties, the drug death rate among whites rose by 19 per cent. The data, released on Thursday, suggests that the common perception of the epidemic as an almost entirely white problem rooted in overprescription of painkillers is no longer accurate, as fentanyl, often stealthily, invades broader swaths of the country and its population. Full Story


Drug Overdose deaths

A young woman lies unconscious, propped against the wall of a drug detox centre in Kensington, Philadelphia.

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“She’s wasn’t breathing,” says Danielle, a 26-year-old woman wearing a baseball hat and jeans. “I found her half under a car. Somebody robbed her. They could have robbed her and called 911 …”

Paramedics arrive and administer Narcan, the nasal form of naloxone used to counter opioid overdoses. The woman comes round and refuses further treatment.

Minutes later, a man staggers and collapses. His breathing is shallow: the line between intoxication and overdose neared but not crossed. Paramedics get him back on his feet. It’s a grim dance, one that continues night and day in this rundown section of the city.

“It’s busiest at six in the morning when people are out trying to get a fix so they don’t get sick,” said Patrick Trainor, a special agent with the Philadelphia division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who has monitored this neighbourhood for two decades. Full Story

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