New England States Hit Hard by Drug Overdose Epidemic
While the entire nation is still reeling over the probable overdose death of Prince, we really need to focus more on the drug overdose epidemic that is gripping our country. Most of the overdoses the U.S. is currently experiencing are from opioid-based drugs. These include prescription medication such as Percocet, and OxyContin, as well as their street drug counterparts, heroin, fentanyl, and deadly new drug, W-18.
Few areas have more trouble with the drug overdose epidemic than those centered around New England. Even those nearby in the east, which flank the area, are having their share of addition problems and overdoses. States such as New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia (the worst in the nation) just to name a few.
I’ve been researching this problem for some time, and over the last few months, I have definitely taken notice of the epidemic as it has affected New England as a region. I decided to compile some statistics which show the scope of the problem as it applies to the entire area.
The following is some information I was able to obtain in my research for each state: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Connecticut had 13 overdose deaths per capita in 2015, ranking #28 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- According to the Tribuna, on average two people die of a drug overdose every day in the state.
- There were about 2,000 drug overdose deaths in the state between 2012 and 2015. The 723 deaths in 2015 were over twice the number recorded in 2012.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Maine had a significant increase in drug overdose deaths of 18.8% between 2013 and 2014.
- Maine had 12 deaths per 100,000 capita in 2015, ranking #39 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- There were 272 fatal drug overdoses in the state in 2015, a 31% increase over 2014 (Bangor Daily News).
- According to the CDC, Massachusetts had a significant increase in drug overdose deaths of 27.3% between 2013 and 2014.
- Massachusetts had nearly 14 deaths per 100,000 capita in 2015, ranking #24 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- 1,379 Massachusetts residents died in fatal opioid overdoses in 2015, an 8% increase from 2014 (Massachusetts Department of Public Health).
- Fentanyl was involved in 50% of those deaths last year, an opioid drug many times more powerful than heroin.
- According to the CDC, New Hampshire had an increase in drug overdose deaths of a staggering 73.5% between 2013 and 2014.
- In 2015 New Hampshire had nearly 15 overdose deaths per 100,000 capita. ranking #19 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- According to the SeacoastOnline, there were at least 433 over deaths in 2015, 85% of which were related to opioids. Fentany was responsible for 65% of all deaths.
- So far in 2015, there have been 48 confirmed opioid-related deaths, two-thirds of which involved Fentanyl.
- Rhode Island had nearly 20 overdose deaths per 100,000 capita in 2015, ranking #7 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- According to the Providence Journal, there were 138 opioid overdose deaths in 2014.
- According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, through from January 1, 2015-October 1, 2015, there were at least 220 overdose deaths. Numbers for the entire year are incomplete.
- Vermont had 13 overdose deaths per 100,000 capita in 2015. ranking #33 among all 50 states (Stastica.com).
- According to the Vermont Department of Health, the state reported 72 deaths in 2015, 34 of which were heroin, and 29 of which were Fentanyl.
- Comparatively, in 2013, heroin was involved in 20 overdose deaths, and fentanyl was involved in 12 – an increase of 42% and 59%, respectively.
- Collectively, New England averaged 14.5 overdose deaths per 100,000 people.
- At least 3,100 people in the region died of a drug overdose in 2015.
- According to the Boston Globe, Connecticut, New Hamphsire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont are currently 5 of the 10 worst-hit states in the nation.
Well, CBS News reported on this recently which may help explain the problem a bit.
Apparently, the areas which have increased the most in terms of drug overdose deaths are not often those associated with high-trafficking.
“…drugs are passing through some high-trafficking counties without affecting death rates of the people in those regions, but are causing problems in other parts of the country…”
In a study, researchers reviewed information on drug overdose deaths in the U.S, from 1979-2014. Overall, death rates increased on average 6,7% per year.
According to the researchers:
“The counties with the largest increases in drug overdose death rates were clustered in southern Michigan, eastern Ohio, western and eastern Pennsylvania, as well as in New Jersey, much of southeastern New York and coastal New England.”
Conversely, areas in the Midwest, California, and Texas experienced little change.
A CDC report from 2013 noted the following:
“Opioid pain relievers—also called prescription painkillers—such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and hydromorphone are responsible for three-fourths of all prescription drug overdose deaths and caused more than 16,600 deaths in the United States in 2010
The sharp rise in opioid overdose deaths closely parallels an equally sharp increase in the prescribing of these drugs. Opioid pain reliever sales in the United States quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.”
It’s probable that these areas also experienced a large uptick in narcotic painkiller prescriptions, thus contributing to addiction. When prescriptions became insufficient due to tolerance or ran out entirely, there became a greater need for street drugs, such as heroin and Fentanyl, with contents both highly potent and unpredictable.
Moreover, the greater overdose rates reflect a greater number of addicts, as well as the availability of more potent drugs.
Also, throughout much of New England, the overdose rates seem to be growing exponentially – that is, unless something is done, the region will keep seeing more and more increases in deaths per capita.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medication, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 fatal drug overdoses in 2014. There were 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology
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