Opioid crisis: Overdoses high in Yates
YATES COUNTY--Every county in New York has been touched by the opioid epidemic. Yates is no exception.
The county experienced the second highest rate of opioid abuse in the Finger Lakes region in 2016, according to a new report of hospital admission and emergency department (ED) data from Common Ground Health.
In 2016, Yates County residents visited hospital EDs for opioid abuse or overdoses 43 times, and three people died from the powerful pain killers, the report shows.
The analysis also confirmed what anecdotal evidence has pointed to for years--that many residents struggling with addiction began their opioid dependence with a prescription from their doctor.
The report found from 2014 to 2016, 54 percent of people who overdosed on opioids in the region had a prescription for opioids within the prior two years. For non-heroin opioid overdoses, the relationship was even stronger; 68 percent of people who overdosed had prior prescriptions for painkillers.
"As opioid deaths and overdoses continue to devastate many in our region, it is critical that we better understand how individuals are becoming dependent," said Albert Blankley, director of research and analytics for Common Ground Health. "These data show that for some individuals, prescription medications may contribute to or trigger the problem."
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) project that drug overdose deaths have increased at least 21 percent from 2015 to 2016, with much of that increase driven by opioids. Yet in the Finger Lakes region, overdose deaths involving opioids soared 46 percent from 2015 to 2016. Alarmingly, heroin overdoses more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, with 613 overdoses across the region.
These statistics alone, however, understate the magnitude of the opioid crisis in the Finger Lakes region, the report noted. From 2005 to 2016, hospital visits related to opioid dependency or abuse increased 432 percent.
The issue brief also reported that:
• African-Americans had significantly lower rates of opioid related ED visits than whites or Hispanics, although all demographic groups experienced huge increases since 2010.
• Opioid addiction crosses all ages. Pain medication overdose in 2016 was highest among those 50 and older, while heroin overdose was most prevalent among 15- to 29-year olds in our region.
• Addiction is both rural and urban. The rate of opioid driven ED visits has grown in every county in the region, with the highest rates seen in Yates and Chemung.
To stem the epidemic, doctors are beginning to curb the amount of narcotics they prescribe, and local organizations are developing new approaches to the public health crisis. For example, new medication drop boxes are being added throughout the region, so residents can properly dispose of unused prescriptions.
Medication called Narcan/naloxone, which reverses opioid overdoses, is available without a prescription from pharmacies.
Schuyler County residents visited hospital EDs for opioid abuse or overdoses 17 times. Schuyler County had the lowest rate of opioid abuse ED visits of the nine Finger Lakes counties, and no Schuyler County residents died in 2016 of opioid overdoses.
Overdose and abuse statistics are based on data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) and NYS Vital Statistics. Opioid prescription rates were analyzed using Common Ground Health's database of insurance claims.
A full report is available at http://bit.ly/Opioid2018.