A National Trend, a Local Crisis
“The increased use of prescription opioid pain medications, along with the widespread availability of cheap heroin and newer synthetic Fentanyl analogs, have contributed to a public health crisis in our community. Too many people have died and many have been deeply affected by this issue” – Indu Gupta MD, MPH, MA, FACP, Commissioner of Health, Onondaga County Health Department”
As seen nationally, Onondaga County has experienced an increase in opioid use over the last several years. The crisis has affected individuals in across all populations in Onondaga County.
This data report shows information from multiple sources to provide a broad picture of the impact of opioid misuse in Onondaga County. These data were selected because they show the scale and scope of the crisis our community is currently facing. When relevant, comparisons will be made to New York State (NYS) excluding New York City (NYC), Central New York, and other counties in NYS.
There has been an increase in opioid-related deaths within Onondaga County since 2012. The proportion of opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl has also increased substantially. Figure 1 depicts unintentional opioid-related deaths in Onondaga County from 2012-2019.
Figure 1: Total Unintended Opioid Related Deaths in Onondaga County, 2012-2019
Source: Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, January 2020
Figure 1 data notes: Chart includes fentanyl analogs. Deaths are through the third quarter of 2019. Data for the fourth quarter of 2019 will be available after the first quarter of 2020.
2019 data are provisional. The categories used in Figure 1 are defined below:
Heroin-related: Heroin alone or in combination with other drugs (non fentanyl)
Fentanyl-related: Fentanyl alone or in combination with other drugs (non heroin)
Both fentanyl- and heroin-related: Both fentanyl and heroin alone or in combination with other drugs
Other opioids: Opioids other than heroin or fentanyl
Figure 2: Unintended Prescription Opioid-Related Deaths in Onondaga County
Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations
In addition to mortality rates, Emergency Department visit and hospitalization rates help to demonstrate the extent of the crisis in Onondaga County. Figures 4 and 5 depict these rates in comparison to data for New York State Excluding New York City.
Newborns with Neonatal Withdrawal Syndrome
Drug use impacts many families in our community, including some of the youngest residents. Onondaga County has the 9th highest rate in New York State for newborns with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, with 35.2 newborns with neonatal withdrawal syndrome per 1,000 newborn discharges in 2016. Source: New York State Department of Health, Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System, 2016) This is an improvement from 2014, when Onondaga County had the third highest rate in New York.
Across New York State regions, Central New York has the highest rate of newborns with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, 30.0 per 1,000 newborn discharges, closely followed by Western New York (Figure 6). Within the Central New York Region, Onondaga has the second highest rate (Figure 7).
Note, prior year data are not provided for comparison due to methodology changes in 2016 that impacted the way these data are collected and reported.
Safe Medication Disposal
Onondaga County’s Sharps Needles and Drug Disposal (SNADD) program offers a solution for the safe disposal of household medications. Several medicine and needle drop boxes are located throughout Onondaga County. Figure 8 depicts the total pounds of drugs collected through the SNADD program since its inception, in November 2015.
Figure 8: Total Pounds Collected Through SNADD Program, Onondaga County, 2015-2018
Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can be administered to reverse an opioid overdose.
Figure 9 depicts the number of naloxone administrations reported by Emergency Medical Services in Onondaga County.
Figure 9: Naloxone Administration by Emergency Medical Services, Onondaga County, 2016 – 2019
Source: New York State-County Quarterly Reports Published in January 2019 and January 2020
Figure 9 data notes: Preliminary data as of November 2019. Numbers represent only naloxone administration events reported electronically, actual numbers of events may be higher. Additional data validation steps have been taken to de-duplicate administrations by multiple agencies for the same patient encounter. 2019 data are through quarter 3 of 2019.
Figure 10 depicts counts of clients admitted to Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) certified substance use treatment programs in Onondaga County.
Figure 10: Admissions to OASAS-Certified Chemical Dependence Treatment Programs, 2017 -2019
Source: New York State-County Quarterly Report Published in January 2020
Figure 10 data notes: Preliminary data as of October 2019. 2019 data are through quarter 2 of 2019. Counts are based on the number of admissions during the quarter or year. An individual admitted to more than one level of care during a quarter or a year would count as multiple admissions. This is different from data published previously and therefore should not be compared with previous data reports. Clients may have heroin, other opioids, or any other substance simultaneously recorded as the primary, secondary and tertiary substance of abuse at admission.