NYC OVERDOSE DEATHS
A fatal overdose occurs every 3 hours in NYC
Source: New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2021
TRAGICALLY, FATAL DRUG OVERDOSES ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH IN NEW YORK CITY
COVID-19 and the Opioid Epidemic
More people are dying of drug overdose in New York City than ever before. In 2022, drug poisonings claimed 3,026 lives in the city, a 12% increase over the prior year. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the crisis worsened in 2023. More than 3,200 deaths due to drug overdose are estimated to have occurred New York City during the 12 months ending in April of 2023. COVID-19 both overshadowed and exacerbated the opioid crisis. Fatal overdose rates shot up at least 80% since 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Both the pandemic and the opioid epidemic have disproportionately impacted Black New Yorkers. Neighborhoods in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan rank among those most affected.
Fentanyl continues to flood the drug market in New York City. Roughly 80% of overdose deaths in the city involve fentanyl, while deaths linked to heroin have begun to decline. Fentanyl is mixed with heroin, cocaine and an array of synthetic drugs. It is packaged into individual dose glassine envelopes or pressed into pills. Because fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, yet much cheaper to produce, it yields substantial profits for drug cartels in Mexico. Users are often unaware that the drugs they are purchasing contains fentanyl. Mixtures containing other potentially lethal substances, such as xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary sedative, are of great concern. Overdose reversal drugs are not as effective against xylazine.
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC CAME IN THREE WAVES.
Overprescribing of prescription opioids
False advertising by pharmaceutical companies and overprescribing by doctors fueled a crisis of addiction to opioid painkillers nationwide beginning in the 1990s. Drug rings developed methods of obtaining fraudulent prescriptions. Unscrupulous medical practitioners got rich selling prescriptions for opioids in exchange for cash while overdose deaths climbed. Read More
Heroin production ramps up
New York City serves as a major hub of heroin trafficking for the Northeast. Local distribution networks coordinate with drug cartels in Mexico to transport multi-million-dollar shipments of heroin to the area. The cartels seized upon the crisis of opioid painkiller addiction in the U.S. as an opportunity to ramp up production of heroin, creating a multi-billion-dollar industry and further escalating overdose deaths beginning in approximately 2010.
Influx of synthetic opioids
50X stronger than Heroin
A highly potent synthetic opioid, illicitly produced fentanyl is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is sold interchangeably with heroin, mixed with other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, and pressed into counterfeit pills.