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Bronx Leads Heroin Overdose Deaths Citywide, Health Department Says

By Eddie Small | August 10, 2016 2:06pm
 Heroin overdoses continued to rise throughout the city in 2015, according to the Department of Health.
Heroin overdoses continued to rise throughout the city in 2015, according to the Department of Health.
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Special Narcotics Prosecutor

NEW YORK — The Bronx had the highest rate of deaths from heroin overdoses throughout the city in 2015, part of an overall increase across the five boroughs for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Department of Health.

A total of 13 per 100,000 residents overdosed on the drug in The Bronx in 2015, leading to 146 deaths, city officials said.

Bronx neighborhoods hit particularly hard by these deaths were Hunts Point, Mott Haven, Crotona, Tremont, Highbridge, Morrisania and Fordham.

"Unfortunately, these problems are not entirely new to The Bronx. The Bronx over the past decade has had either the first or second highest rate in the city," said Dr. Hillary Kunins, assistant commissioner at the city's health department.

"What’s significant and important about this new data is that we’re seeing increases yet beyond what we had previously seen."

This was the fifth consecutive year that the rate of deaths from heroin-involved overdoses increased throughout New York City, more than doubling from 3.1 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to eight per 100,000 residents in 2015, according to the Health Department.

The death rate increased in all boroughs except Staten Island last year, and the rate in The Bronx was more than double that in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Kristin Wilson, national director of clinical outreach at Newport Academy, which treats people with substance abuse issues, said that New York City's proximity to ports may help explain its rising number of overdoses.

"Cities that are close to ship traffic usually have the purest heroin, which can lead to overdoses if people aren’t used to that type of heroin," she said.

Rates increased by more than 50 percent in neighborhoods including Flushing, Washington Heights/Inwood, Borough Park and Southwest Queens, and the overall death rate was highest among white New Yorkers at 11.6 per 100,000, according to the Department of Health.

The Bronx also had the highest rate of overdoses from the painkiller fentanyl in 2015 at 3.5 per 100,000 residents, which was double the rate of all other boroughs.

Although the rate of overdoses from prescription painkillers like Percocet and Vicodin was highest among Staten Island residents last year, the borough's rate did fall by 8 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the Department of Health.

The Bronx, however, saw its death rate from overdosing on such prescription painkillers increase by 44 percent between 2014 and 2015, the largest increase throughout the city, according to the Health Department.

Overall, deaths from unintentional drug overdoses increased throughout the city in 2015.

The city saw 937 deaths from overdoses throughout the year, up from 800 in 2014, and the rate has increased from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 13.6 per 100,000 residents in 2015, according to city statistics.

The rate was again highest among Bronx residents at 22.6 per capita, and the largest spike by race occurred among Latinos, whose rate went up from 11.2 per 100,000 residents in 2014 to 16.4 per 100,000 residents in 2015, the Department of Health said.

Heroin played a role in 556 overdose deaths in New York last year, making it the most common substance to contribute to such fatalities, according to the Health Department.