Pittsburgh Three Rivers

Pittsburgh Pounded By Fentanyl Overdoses in 2017

2017 opioid overdose deaths in Pittsburgh will exceed 700, versus 650 last year. The driving force: A seemingly endless variety of fentanyl knock-offs. As reported in the Post-Gazette, Allegheny County in 2017 broke its record for fatal overdoses, just as it did the year before, and the year before that.

Is there any good news? “The increase is not as sharp as it was from 2014 to 2015 to 2016,” said Dr. Karl Williams, the county’s medical examiner. The drug death total is higher “but maybe not rising at as steep a rate as it was before. Maybe we’re starting to see the effects of the Narcan,” the opioid reversal drug available in pharmacies and carried by an increasing number of public safety personnel.

Of the 652 finalized drug deaths in Allegheny County last year, nearly 71 percent of the deceased were male, and nearly 86 percent were white. The age group most represented is 25 to 34 years of age. The top ZIP Codes are 15212 (North Side), 15136 (McKees Rocks) and 15210 (Carrick and the Hilltop neighborhoods).

The city and nonprofit partners are preparing to launch a Post-Overdose Response Team, which will encourage people in and around Carrick who survive overdoses to get into treatment. Mayor Bill Peduto last week touted that and other measures, and endorsed the concept of safe injection sites at which recovery specialists could nudge users to get help.

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To read more about how officials in Pittsburgh are fighting to reverse the ongoing trend of overdose deaths, please visit The Post-Gazette.com.

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