NEW YORK, March 1 (UPI) -- Unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York declined sharply in 2008, falling to the lowest level seen since 1999, city health officials said.
Dr. Thomas Farley, city health commissioner, said the report found the annual number of deaths fell from 874 in 2006 to 666 in 2008, a 27 percent decline in the city's drug-related death rate over two years.
The reasons for the decline in overdose deaths are not clear, the report said. They may relate in part to community-based initiatives, established by law in 2006, to distribute naloxone -- an antidote to opioid overdose that can be lifesaving -- within high-risk populations.
Survey data suggest nearly 1 million of the some 8 million New Yorkers have used illicit drugs during the past year. Marijuana is the city's most commonly used illicit drug, but most of the severe health consequences result from cocaine and opioids, which include heroin and pain relievers.
Approximately 4 percent of New York adults age 35 and older report using prescription pain relievers without a prescription, or for reasons other than pain relief, during the past year. Cocaine use has also increased -- most markedly among men -- whose self-reported rate of abuse reached 5.8 percent in 2006, more than double the 2002 rate.
The report is at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/survey/survey-2009drugod.pdf. No survey details were provided.