Los Angeles Led 43 Metropolitan Areas in Drug Abuse-Related Deaths in 2000, SAMHSA Study Finds
Los Angeles reported 1,192 drug abuse-related deaths in 2000, the largest number among 43 U.S. metropolitan areas, according to new study released last Friday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. SAMHSA conducted the study to help drug treatment professionals develop programs to "combat the problem" of drug abuse. In the study, SAMHSA collected data submitted by county medical examiners in 43 metropolitan areas on the number of deaths where "drug abuse was either the primary or contributing factor." The study did not include deaths from drug-related incidents such as shootings (Avril, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/2). According to the study, titled "Mortality Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2000," Los Angeles reported the largest number of drug abuse-related deaths with 1,192, followed by Philadelphia with 942, New York City with 924, Chicago with 869 and Detroit with 704. The study found that heroin, cocaine and alcohol accounted for 40% of drug abuse-related deaths in reports submitted by medical examiners in half of the metropolitan areas studied. However, the study found "no consistent trends" in heroin- and cocaine-related deaths. The study found that heroin deaths decreased in 12 metropolitan areas from 1999 to 2000 but increased in 13. The study also found that reported cocaine deaths dropped in 12 metropolitan areas but increased in 11 from 1999 to 2000.
In addition, the study found that individuals younger than age 25 accounted for fewer than 20% of the drug abuse-related deaths reported, while individuals ages 45 and older accounted for more than one-third. Men accounted for more than half of the drug abuse-related deaths reported, the study found. The study also found that codeine ranked in the top 10 drugs used in reported drug abuse-related deaths in 17 metropolitan areas; oxycondone ranked in the top 10 in 15 metropolitan areas; and methadone ranked in the top 10 in 19 metropolitan areas. However, the study found that "club drugs," such as Ecstasy, led to few deaths in the metropolitan areas studied. According to the study, only 10 cities reported more than five drug abuse-related deaths that resulted from club drugs. SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said, "One life lost to drugs is one too many. Effective prevention and treatment programs are key to helping reduce the needless loss of life that results from the abuse of drugs." He added, "We are working with states and local drug treatment providers to build treatment capacity and to implement the most effective treatment services available" (SAMHSA release, 3/1). The SAMHSA study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the study.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.