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Drug-Related Overdoses

Drug overdose deaths have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

Each day in the United States, over 120 people die as a result of a drug overdose. The number of drug poisoning deaths in 2013, the latest year for which data is available, involving opioid analgesics is substantial and outpaces the number of deaths for cocaine and heroin combined. (See Table 1.)

Deaths that result from the abuse or misuse of illicit street drugs and diverted pharmaceuticals reflect the most malicious way the illegal drug trade damages and destroys lives. As such, analysis of drug-related overdose deaths in western Pennsylvania for 2015 identified the following:

 

Allegheny County, containing the city of Pittsburgh, reported 648 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016.

  • This represents a 53.55 percent increase over 2015
  • The most frequently identified drugs in toxicology test results in 2015 were:
    • heroin (58 percent)
    • fentanyl (29 percent)
    • cocaine (29 percent)
    • Of note, fentanyl mentions increased more than 1,000 percent since 2013.

 

Westmoreland County reported 174 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016.

  • This represents a 38.1 percent increase over 2015
  • The most frequently identified drugs in toxicology test results in 2015 were:
    • heroin (42 percent)
    • fentanyl (20 percent)
    • alprazolam (18 percent)
    • Of note, fentanyl mentions increased 400 percent since 2013.

 

Washington County reported 106 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016;

  • This represents a 45.21 percent increase over 2015
  • The total number of overdose deaths for 2015 represents a 78 percent increase from 2014.

 

Butler County reported 74 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016.

  • This represents a 57.45 percent increase from 2015.

 

(U) Figure 2: 2015 Drug-Related Overdose Deaths and 

Percentage Change from 2014 in Four Western Pennsylvania Counties

          Source: Pennsylvania Medical Examiners and Coroners and DEA