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Drug Overdose Deaths Declining in NJ but Increase Elsewhere

 

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More Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were an estimated 100,306 fatal overdoses over the 12 months through April 2021 -- the most ever reported in a 12-month period and double the annual number of car accidents and firearm deaths combined.

The record number of deadly overdoses marks a 29% increase from the same period a year earlier and is more than double the number reported as recently as 2014. Public health experts attribute the surge to the proliferation of fentanyl -- a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine -- as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has isolated many Americans struggling with addiction while reducing their treatment options and care resources.

New Jersey is one of only four states where drug overdose deaths are declining. There were an estimated 2,918 fatal overdoses in New Jersey over the 12 months ending in April 2021, compared to 2,948 over the same period the year prior. The 1.0% decrease ranks as the fourth largest improvement of any state.

Still, fatalities involving certain types of illicit drugs are on the rise in New Jersey. Of all drug classifications identified by the CDC, including synthetic synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, cocaine, heroin, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and methadone (a drug used to treat heroin and opioid addiction), methadone had the largest increase in fatalities in the state, up 36.6% from a year earlier.

Despite the overall decrease, the fatal drug overdose rate in New Jersey now stands at 31.4 deaths for every 100,000 people, the 22nd highest among all states. Nationwide, the per capita fatality rate stands at 30.3 per 100,000.

All overdose data used in this story are from the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC. To account for pending investigations and incomplete counts, the numbers reported are estimates calculated by the NCHS. Population-adjusted fatality rates were calculated using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's Decennial Census.

Rank State 1-yr change in fatal overdoses Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2021 Deaths per 100,000 people, 2021 Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2020 Deaths per 100,000 people 2020
1 Vermont 69.9% 209 32.5 123 19.1
2 West Virginia 62.2% 1,607 89.6 991 55.2
3 Kentucky 54.5% 2,319 51.5 1,501 33.3
4 Louisiana 51.6% 2,218 47.6 1,463 31.4
5 Tennessee 50.1% 3,581 51.8 2,385 34.5
6 Mississippi 49.9% 637 21.5 425 14.4
7 California 47.8% 10,585 26.8 7,162 18.1
8 Alaska 46.7% 176 24.0 120 16.4
9 Kansas 45.7% 558 19.0 383 13.0
10 South Carolina 45.4% 1,907 37.3 1,312 25.6
11 Oregon 45.1% 940 22.2 648 15.3
12 Minnesota 38.5% 1,188 20.8 858 15.0
13 New Mexico 37.0% 893 42.2 652 30.8
14 North Carolina 36.9% 3,526 33.8 2,576 24.7
15 Texas 36.4% 4,687 16.1 3,437 11.8
16 Georgia 36.3% 2,086 19.5 1,530 14.3
17 Washington 35.7% 1,892 24.6 1,394 18.1
18 Nevada 35.7% 992 32.0 731 23.5
19 Virginia 35.5% 2,262 26.2 1,669 19.3
20 Colorado 34.6% 1,655 28.7 1,230 21.3
21 Arkansas 33.0% 536 17.8 403 13.4
22 Indiana 32.4% 2,487 36.7 1,878 27.7
23 Alabama 31.4% 1,110 22.1 845 16.8
24 New York 29.3% 5,496 27.2 4,252 21.0
25 Arizona 28.5% 2,768 38.7 2,154 30.1
26 Nebraska 27.9% 211 10.8 165 8.4
27 Ohio 26.6% 5,585 47.3 4,410 37.4
28 Florida 26.2% 7,892 36.6 6,256 29.0
29 Maine 24.2% 528 38.8 425 31.2
30 Wisconsin 21.8% 1,599 27.1 1,313 22.3
31 Maryland 21.0% 2,876 46.6 2,376 38.5
32 Oklahoma 20.2% 798 20.2 664 16.8
33 Michigan 19.3% 2,952 29.3 2,474 24.6
34 Idaho 18.8% 297 16.1 250 13.6
35 Utah 18.5% 674 20.6 569 17.4
36 Rhode Island 17.5% 409 37.3 348 31.7
37 Wyoming 16.9% 97 16.8 83 14.4
38 Missouri 14.6% 2,004 32.6 1,749 28.4
39 Pennsylvania 13.1% 5,410 41.6 4,784 36.8
40 Illinois 12.6% 3,601 28.1 3,197 25.0
41 North Dakota 11.9% 122 15.7 109 14.0
42 Iowa 9.5% 426 13.4 389 12.2
43 Montana 6.6% 161 14.8 151 13.9
44 Hawaii 6.3% 268 18.4 252 17.3
45 Massachusetts 5.8% 2,419 34.4 2,286 32.5
46 Connecticut 4.4% 1,409 39.1 1,350 37.4
47 New Jersey -1.0% 2,918 31.4 2,948 31.7
48 Delaware -1.7% 459 46.4 467 47.2
49 New Hampshire -7.2% 372 27.0 401 29.1
50 South Dakota -19.8% 77 8.7 96 10.8

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