Fatal heroin overdoses on the rise in New York City

by Reuters
Thursday, 28 August 2014 15:13 GMT

NEW YORK, Aug 28 (Reuters) - The number of deaths from drug overdoses in New York City has steadily risen since 2010, in part because of an apparent resurgence in heroin use, according to data released on Thursday by the city's health department.

Heroin overdoses killed 420 people in the city in 2013, the highest number in a decade, the health department said. The illegal drug was the most common substance involved in overdose deaths, involved in 54 percent of all incidents last year.

The largest increase in rates of heroin overdoses was seen in the city's wealthiest neighborhoods, the department said, rising to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, from 1.9 in 2010.

The surge in heroin use gained attention in February, when actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment on Feb. 2 with a needle in his arm. Authorities attributed his death to an overdose of heroin and other drugs.

Overdoses from methadone, which can be used to treat heroin addiction, and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone have held relatively stable between 2010 and 2013, according to the data. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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