Opioid deaths drop for first time in decade, New York state officials say

Opioid deaths drop for first time in decade, New York state officials say
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The number of opioid-related deaths in New York state counties excluding New York City dropped for the first time in a decade, officials said in a preliminary report released on Monday.  

The state reported 1,824 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018. The number is nearly 16 percent lower than the 2,170 opioid-related deaths in 2017, according to the state’s preliminary data.

Hospitalizations for opioid-related overdoses also fell, with the state reporting 3,029 hospitalizations in 2018 compared to 3,260 in 2017. 

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Data including opioid-related deaths of New York City residents will later be combined with the state’s county-by-county data in an annual report. 

The quarterly report is based on preliminary data, which the health department cautions can change as overdose deaths take time to be confirmed. 

“New York's first reduction in opioid overdose deaths in over ten years is an important milestone and demonstrates our work to combat this deadly scourge is working," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a statement.

"And while New York has taken the most aggressive actions to combat the opioid crisis of any other state in the country, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate too many families and we will not rest until we put an end to it once and for all,” Cuomo added. 

Cuomo convened a New York State Heroin and Opioid Task Force in 2016, and reconvened the task force in 2019. The task force proposes nontraditional services, including recovery centers, youth clubhouses, expanded peer services, mobile treatment and 24/7 open access centers in communities across the state.