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DEA report: Fentanyl fuels rise in overdose deaths in Lebanon County

Written by Daniel Walmer/The Lebanon Daily News | Oct 31, 2018 10:05 AM
Heroin art Lebanon.jpg

"This message is relevant to any block," artist Adam DelMarcelle said while projecting his latest art work on a building at Willow and North 6th Street on Aug. 16. (Michael K. Dakota/Lebanon Daily News)

The Drug Enforcement Agency released a report last week examining overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, and the findings were predictably grim.

Lebanon County had a relatively slender increase in deaths over the past three years, but faces the same problem haunting all of Pennsylvania: the rise of fentanyl. The strong opioid painkiller was the most frequent drug reported in overdose deaths statewide in both 2016 and 2017, eclipsing even heroin.

More: Drug deaths climb 59 percent in Lebanon County

Here's what the numbers - mostly taken from coroners' reports - showed in Lebanon County:

  • Drug overdose deaths rose by 45 percent in Lebanon County between 2015 and 2017. Most counties saw increases over that time span, and neighboring Lancaster County saw overdose deaths jump by 114 percent.
  • There were 65 overdose deaths in Lebanon County from 2015-2017.
  • Opioids like heroin or fentanyl contributed to most of those deaths, far surpassing any other drug.
  • Fentanyl was involved in almost 80 percent of Lebanon County drug overdose deaths in 2017, nearly double the total from previous years.
  • Lebanon County's rate of 16 deaths per 100,000 people was better than most counties in Pennsylvania.
  • About two-thirds of the overdose deaths were among men, and a majority were in the 25-44 age bracket.
  • Lebanon County has a relatively low rate of prescription opioids, with about 58 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Overall, Pennsylvania had nearly twice as many drug overdose deaths in 2017 as the United States per capita average, the report found.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Lebanon Daily News.

Published in Lebanon, News

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