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Drug overdoses spiked by 45.5 percent in Queens during COVID-19 pandemic: DA

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Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced today that drug overdoses in the borough spiked during the pandemic.

“In 2020, there were 391 overdose deaths, a 45.5 percent increase over 2019, when there were 268 overdose deaths,” Katz said in a statement. “There is no question that the pandemic, which fueled a national drug abuse crisis, also hit us hard here in our borough.”

According to the data compiled from the NYPD and the Office of the City Medical Examiner, 71 percent of all suspected drug overdose deaths in Queens are related to fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives. 

“While there were 82 homicides in Queens last year, there were nearly five times as many deaths due to drug overdoses,” Katz said. “Fentanyl is a dangerous, lethal drug — and often people don’t even know they are taking it because it is mixed with other drugs or sold as pills. Addressing this epidemic remains one of the greatest public health challenges facing current and future generations of Queens residents.”

Federal data indicated that COVID-19 pandemic-related stress, job loss and the lockdown have increased the use of opioids and reports of overdoses across the country and in Queens. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020 throughout the country.

“My office remains committed to equitable drug policies and provides avenues of support through Queens Treatment Court and specialized treatment courts,” Katz said. “Evidence-based public health and safety interventions are our most effective tools in helping residents reclaim their lives.”

A new program, Queens Connect, in the Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court provides participants with treatment and other services. The district attorney’s office refers eligible participants for clinical assistance for treatment. The program also includes educational, vocational and home health services related to mental health or psychiatric conditions.  

The following data is a breakdown of 2020 suspected overdose deaths in Queens and resources, provided by the district attorney’s office: 

Men

Total suspected overdoses: 313 (80 percent) 

Men by age group:  

10-20: 11  

21-30: 57  

31-40: 97  

41-50: 62  

51-60: 52  

61-70: 29  

71-80: 4  

81-90: 1  

Men by ethnicity

White: 140 

Black/African American: 66 

Hispanic: 73 

Hispanic Black: 1 

Hispanic White: 5 

Asian: 10 

Indian: 3 

Asian Pacific: 12 

Women

Total suspected overdoses: 78 (20 percent) 

Women by age group: 

10-20: 1  

21-30: 11 

31-40: 17  

41-50: 17  

51-60: 23  

61-70: 9  

Women by ethnicity:  

White: 40  

Black/African American: 20  

Hispanic: 10 

Hispanic White: 1 

Asian: 2 

Asian Pacific: 5 

Queens County opioid treatment resources  

To find a treatment provider, visit FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov.

Call the 24/7 NYS Hopeline: 877- 846-7369 or text 467369 for free and confidential help.

Those in need may also find help at  findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator

Addiction treatment centers 

Samaritan Daytop Village 

144-10 Jamaica Ave. 

Jamaica, NY 11435-3624  

718-206-2000  

Cornerstone Treatment Facilities Network  

159-05 Union Tpke. 

Fresh Meadows, NY 11366  

800-233-9999  

Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities, Inc.

107-20 Northern Blvd . 

Corona, NY 11368  

718-651-0096  

Emotional and mental health supportive services  

NYS Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Helpline: 844-863-9314 (open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.)  

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