According to a report from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division, drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania climbed over 23 percent in 2015, with a mind-numbing rise in fentanyl deaths of 93 percent in just one year.
The DEA said Tuesday that the new figures mark the greatest increase in more than a decade, signaling that the drug epidemic is far from being over.
The agency also noted that between 2014 and 2015 there was a 5 percent rise in heroin deaths, 93 percent in fatal fenatyl overdoses (fentanyl is the drug that killed singer Prince), and 41 percent rise in cocaine deaths. According to police reports, most people had a mix of different drugs in their bodies at the moment of death so authorities cannot blame a single drug.
Gary Tuggle of the DEA’s Philadelphia Field Division said that the United States is swept by the worst drug epidemic in its history.
“The nation and the commonwealth are in the throes of the worst drug epidemic in the country’s history,”
Tuggle said Tuesday.
Philadelphia is the only state to issue an annual report on drug deaths,. For other states there is a CDC report which hasn’t been yet updated for 2015.
Tuggle added that DEA agents in other states have sensed a major increase in drug deaths. And the drug epidemic keeps gaining proportion despite state and federal efforts to rein in drug abuse. In recent years, lawmakers made overdose-reversal drug naloxone readily available and put restrictions on opioid prescription that can leave people addicted.
Congress plans for this week to approve and send to the Oval office a bill designed to boost funding for prevention and treatment of drug addiction. The bill, which was passed last week, is short of $1 billion, which the federal government had requested. Congressmen said that they would add more funds later.
Jeremiah A. Daley, the head of an antidrug program in Philadelphia deemed the latest DEA report “absolutely stunning and very discouraging.” The officer added that the southeastern pats of the state are now in “acute crisis.”
According to the recent report, the group with the highest risk of death from overdoses are white men aged between 30 and 39. This group represents 15 percent of all overdose deaths even though it accounts for nearly 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s population.
Philadelphia’s drug overdose fatalities jumped 10 percent to 720 cases last year from a year prior. This means that 46 people died from drug overdoses for for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is the largest number in the state.
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