New York City officials believe the city's comprehensive effort to stem opioid overdose is making a difference, as they released data this week showing the first decline in drug overdose deaths in eight years.
The city Health Department's figures show 1,444 drug overdose deaths in the city in 2018, down just slightly from the 1,482 reported in 2017. While this development did not offer cause for great celebration, it did give officials reason to affirm their commitment to the various components of the $60 million HealingNYC initiative, from nonfatal overdose interventions in hospital emergency departments to increased training of buprenorphine prescribers to expansion of syringe services programs.
“The decrease in drug overdose deaths is promising, but far too many New Yorkers are still dying,” Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in an Aug. 26 news release. “We are closely monitoring the trends of the epidemic as they evolve and responding to upticks in emergency department visits and deaths with targeted strategies and community engagement.”
The pattern in overdose deaths in 2018 differed from borough to borough, as rates decreased in Brooklyn and Queens but increased in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island.
The city also reported that overdose deaths in the first quarter of this year were down slightly from the final quarter of 2018.