While latest data shows a reduction in the number of fatal overdoses in 2018, it doesn’t mean New Yorkers are overdosing less, its just they have quick access to a drug that saves their life.
New York is the world’s overdose capital, no doubt. But recent reports have somehow curtailed the infamy a bit. As per the city health officials, overdosing deaths in New York have declined slightly in the last year. The news is seen as a positive due to the fact that several years before last saw the death toll increase at an alarming rate.
As per the latest data released by the city Health Department, New York saw 1,444 fatal in 2018, which is 2.6% less than the number in 2017.
However, the number is almost three times that of 2010 situation when there were 541 such overdose deaths. Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said, “The decrease in drug overdose deaths is promising, but far too many New Yorkers are still dying.”
But New York is still overdosing heavily
Although the number of deaths is down a meagre percentage, that doesn’t state that the overdose habit of New Yorkers is being contained. Rather its factored by a national trend where U.S. overdose deaths fell for the first time in nearly three decades, as per the Federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the numbers can be misleading. For instance, the number of overdose deaths doesn’t include suicides or homicides that are drug-induced. The current drug overdose epidemic in the US is the deadliest in its history, even overshadowing the trippy 70s. It is fuelled by an opioid abuse crisis – from prescription painkillers to street drugs such as heroin and illicit fentanyl.
80% of NY’s overdose deaths in 2018 involved some form of opioid
As per the health department, cocaine was a factor in over half the deaths. However, the percentages add and rise up to over 100, due to many lethal overdoses involving multiple substances.
The opioid crisis lays bare the current state of intoxication in the city. Fentanyl caused almost 60% of the deaths where it was 16% only three years ago. Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller often shipped or smuggled into the U.S and a major ingredient in many street drugs.
Nationwide fight against opioids
Health officials across the United States are trying to fight the overdose epidemic through a multi-pronged approach. This involves tougher policing, treatment program expansion, limitations on opioid painkiller prescribing and wider distribution of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.
Of these steps, easier availability of naloxone is perhaps the reason behind the slight decrease in fatal overdoses. In 2017 and 2018, the New York City health department has distributed 230,000 naloxone kits.
As per experts, a surge in naloxone prescriptions could be a reason that deadly overdoses have ceased rising across America.
Another measure has been overdosing prevention training in hundreds of communities, pharmacies and other places. As per the state Health Department, 1,800 physicians are trained and qualified to prescribe the anti-addiction drug buprenorphine.