State Report Finds Surge in Drug Overdose Deaths

A state report has found that drug overdoses surged during the Covid-19 epidemic, increasing by 68 percent.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that an analysis found that deaths increased by nearly 5,000 people from 2019 to 2021.

The surge is largely due  to illicit fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids. Overdose deaths statewide from opioids and all drugs (5,841) in 2021 surpassed the previous 2017 peak by more than 1,700 fatalities.

“Too many New Yorkers have died from the misuse of drugs, but the jump in these numbers is alarming. It is a tragedy that devastates families and impacts our communities in countless ways,” DiNapoli said. “The data shows our battle against drug overdose deaths is far from over. State leaders must ensure an ongoing commitment of public resources and strategies, including new funding from legal settlements, and innovative, evidence-based solutions for the fight against this deadly epidemic to be effective.”

His report found:

  • The share of drug overdose deaths in the state involving opioids increased to 85% in both 2020 and 2021 from 69% in 2010.
  • In 2021, 30 New Yorkers per 100,000 died from drug overdoses and 25 per 100,000 New Yorkers died from opioid overdoses, compared to five in 2010. New York’s opioid overdose death rates exceeded national rates in both 2020 and 2021.
  • Fatalities grew across all racial and ethnic groups. Death rates increased five-fold for Black New Yorkers, quadrupled for Hispanic or Latino New Yorkers, and nearly tripled for White New Yorkers. In 2020, death rates were highest for White New Yorkers at 28.7 per 100,000 people.
  • In 2020, drug overdose death rates were higher than the statewide average (25.4 per 100,000) in 10 of the 15 counties for which Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data is available. Due to low death counts in most counties resulting in privacy and statistical reliability concerns, CDC data is only available for certain counties. The highest rate was in Dutchess County, where over 43 per 100,000 people died of drug overdoses, followed by Niagara County, the Bronx, and Monroe County.

“Overdoses continue to wreck families and communities across New York, and the recent post-COVID increase in fatalities creates even more urgency that we do more,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, Family and Children’s Association President/CEO. “At the same time, it’s critical that we recognize this crisis has moved steadily into communities of color and future funding decisions should reflect that fact. We are grateful for State Comptroller DiNapoli’s continued focus on New York’s opioid crisis, his thoughtful analysis of the current challenges and his willingness to ensure that prevention, access to treatment and support for people in recovery remains a priority.”

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