Erie PA

Erie PA Takes Longterm View As Opioid Crisis Grows

Overdose deaths are expected to continue rising with no end in sight, a researcher from the University of Pittsburgh told Erie County’s Heroin Overdose Community Awareness Task Force on Friday.

If our projections are right, it doesn’t really look like it’s going to peak anytime soon,” said Hawre Jalal, an assistant professor at Pittsburgh’s graduate school of public health.

The forecast, which includes the most recent national data available, from 2015, predicted that 300,000 people would die of accidental drug overdoses nationwide in the next five years. In the year 2020 alone, 70,000 people are predicted to die of accidental overdoses nationwide, Jalal said.

“If our predictions are right, the nature of the epidemic is switching from being prescription opioid-driven to heroin- and fentanyl-driven,” Jalal said.

Erie County reached 111 drug-related deaths in 2017 as of Oct. 26, Coroner Lyell Cook said. The county saw a record-setting 95 such deaths in all of 2016, which was also the first year that fentanyl surpassed heroin as the No. 1 killer involved in drug-related deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 60,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2016, based on preliminary data.

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