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Opioid Deaths Down Sharply In Southwestern Pennsylvania

Mary Altaffer
The DEA credits naloxone distribution and access to treatment as likely causes for recent drops in opioid-related deaths.

The number of overdose deaths in the southwestern Pennsylvania region fell by 41 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a new report from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Allegheny County reported a similar decrease in opioid deaths for the same time period.

The DEA says that naloxone distribution and access to treatment in the region are likely causes of the decrease.

Among the administration’s findings:

In 2018, approximately 4,491 drug-related overdose deaths were reported by Pennsylvania coroners and medical examiners—an 18 percent decrease from 2017. In 2018, 12 people in Pennsylvania died of a drug-related overdose each day.
Fentanyl was the most frequently identified substance in drug-related overdose deaths (70 percent of deaths), remaining consistent with 2017. The younger population demographic was associated with fentanyl usage, as fentanyl was present in more than 75 percent of drug-related overdose decedents within the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age groups.
The most notable shift in the 2018 top 10 counties [with the highest rates of overdose deaths], was their concentration in eastern and central Pennsylvania, which reflects the significant decreases observed in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The DEA also notes that 70 percent of overdose decedents were male and 79 percent were non-Hispanic whites.