New York City’s black population had the most drug overdose fatalities, with most of the deaths occurring in the Bronx, a where fentanyl epidemic was to blame, officials said.
Eleven years have passed since the number of African American overdose deaths surpassed the number of fatal drug overdoses among whites or Hispanics, according to a city health department report.
In 2017, black New Yorkers had a higher rate of overdose deaths (25.5 per 100,000) compared with white and Latino New Yorkers (24.9 and 23.9 per 100,000, respectively).
Of the black New Yorkers who died from overdose deaths in 2017, the largest number lived in the Bronx, which, along with Manhattan, had the highest rates of overdoses overall.
The data was just a piece of the good news/bad news number crunching released by health department analysts about the opioid epidemic plaguing New York and the nation. While the number of deaths is climbing higher, the rate of increase is slowing down.
Topping the highlights was news that overdose deaths in New York City in 2017 — including residents and non-residents remained at epidemic levels, with 1,487 deaths compared to 1,425 in 2016, an increase of 62 deaths, or 2 percent.
In 2016, there were 437 more deaths than the year before, a 51 percent increase over 2015.
On average, in 2017, there were nearly four drug overdose deaths each day in NYC, or one overdose death every six hours.
For the first time, fentanyl was the most common substance, involved in 842 or 57 percent of overdose deaths in 2017.
“New York City’s overdose epidemic continues, but the story of who is affected is changing,” said Acting Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot. “In the first time in over a decade, the risk of fatal overdose is higher in African Americans than whites. Still the rate of increase has slowed, and we are optimistic that the many efforts of HealingNYC are moving us in the right direction.”
Among the steps the city is taking is the distribution of 15,000 naloxone kits to opioid overdose prevention programs in the Bronx, and expanding access to treatment medication at 12 new sites citywide, with two additional sites in the Bronx and four more sites in Manhattan.