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Fatal Overdoses Now Outpace Homicides In New Orleans

By Victoria Kim 03/29/17

This is the first time in the city's history that drug-related deaths have usurped homicides. 

Hospital professionals pushing a gurney down a hallway.

New Orleans, Louisiana has joined the growing list of cities where drug overdose deaths have surpassed the number of homicides.

On Monday, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office said in a press release that the city recorded 211 drug-related deaths in 2016—which it says marks “the first time that drug-related deaths have surpassed homicides in the history of New Orleans.”

According to the Times-Picayune, the city recorded 175 murders in 2016. 

Of the 211 drug deaths in 2016, 166 of them involved opioids. Of those 166, 29% involved fentanyl—the synthetic opioid that law enforcement across the U.S. attribute to the rise in drug overdose cases.

Aside from opioids like heroin and painkillers, other substances were also found in the fatal overdose cases from last year—105 of the drug deaths involved cocaine and 18 involved methamphetamine and/or amphetamines.

Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse said in Monday’s press release that New Orleans “is in the midst of an accelerating public health crisis of drug-related deaths.” 

The solution, said Rouse, is getting more people the help they need. “Expanding access to all levels of addiction treatment is the solution, before persons end up in my office,” he said.

Joseph Kanter, medical director of the city’s health department, also emphasized treatment in response to the recent statistics, saying opioid addiction is “not a character flaw.”

“Friends, family members and loved ones who suffer from addiction need to know there is a treatment available, and you should help your loved ones go and seek treatment,” said Kanter. “These people need the love and support of their family members.”

Also this month, New York City authorities recorded four times as many drug-related deaths as homicides in 2016. 

Approximately 1,300 people died of a drug overdose last year, and about 1,075 of those deaths involved opioids. According to DNAinfo, there were 335 recorded murders in the city in 2016.

NYC officials say that fentanyl played a huge part in fueling the rise in fatal overdoses. Last year, nearly 90% of opioid-related deaths in NYC involved heroin or fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Initially developed for use in hospitals, it’s increasingly turned up in batches of black market heroin.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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