Opioid Poisoning Rates on Long Island

Ayesha Azeem ‘23

Pills
Figure 1. The United States is facing an increase in the opioid poisoning crisis, with New York being one of the 5 states with the greatest rates of abuse.

The United States currently faces a growing opioid poisoning crisis. Opioid use can lead to significant impairment and distress, social problems, chronic relapsing abuse and even early death. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, New York is one of 5 states with the most opioid drug overdoses. Historically, those affected by nonfatal opioid poisoning tend to be white males, aged 18-34 years, those with lower income, urban-dwelling people and non-private payers. However, as a recent study conducted by Stony Brook University suggests, the demographics are expanding to include all ages, more women, those with health insurance, higher-income individuals, and those who live in small cities, suburbs, and rural locations. 

A Stony Brook University research team, led by Dr.Elinor R. Schoenfeld, investigated the current opioid poisoning trends on Long Island using patient-level New York State all-payer hospital data from 2010 to 2016, along with census data. The objective of this study was to determine the geographic, temporal, and sociodemographic factors related to  opioid poisoning-related visits to a hospital among Long Island residents. The team chose patients with an opioid poisoning discharge diagnosis and a NYS home zip code. The study included 3,426,563 patients (1,636,758 Nassau, 1,789,805 Suffolk) at any facility treatment location, including emergency rooms and inpatients. 

This study discovered that OP hospital visit rates increased 2.5 to 2.7 fold on Long Island from 2010 to 2016. During this period, Suffolk rates remained higher and Nassau rates lower than NYS. The demographics of OP patients also changed significantly for NYS and Long Island. Nassau and NYS observed changing rates by ethnicity, with an increasing number of Hispanic patients. The percentage of patients using Medicare instead of self-pay increased in both counties and NYS. 

This study helps develop an increased understanding of the opioid crisis and helps professionals determine the correct preventional tools needed. With the right information, New York can expand efforts to provide targeted OP interventions where they are needed the most. With the right methods, we may be able to prevent the crisis from spreading further by focusing on the factors that lead to opioid poisoning initially. 

References:

  1. E. Schoenfeld, et al., Geographic, temporal, and sociodemographic differences in opioid poisoning. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, (2019). Doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.03.020
  2. Image retrieved from: https://media.defense.gov/2013/Dec/24/2000886488/-1/-1/0/131224-F-IM476-001.JPG

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