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ONONDAGA COUNTY 
Opioid Epidemic Data Report

A National Trend, a Local Crisis


The increased use of prescription opioid pain medications, along with the widespread availability of cheap heroin and newer synthetic Fentanyl analogs, have contributed to a public health crisis in our community. Too many people have died and many have been deeply affected by this issue" - Indu Gupta MD, MPH, MA, FACP, Commissioner of Health, Onondaga County Health Department


As seen nationally, Onondaga County has experienced an increase in opioid abuse and addiction in the last several years. The crisis has affected individuals in across all populations in Onondaga County.

This data report shows information from multiple sources to provide a broad picture of the impact of opioid misuse in Onondaga County. These data were selected because they show the scale and scope of the crisis our community is currently facing. When relevant, comparisons will be made to New York State (NYS) excluding New York City (NYC), Central New York, and other counties in NYS. 

Opioid-Related Deaths


We are seeing an increase in opioid-related deaths. The number of opioid-related deaths in Onondaga County has more than tripled since 2012 . The proportion of opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl has also increased substantially. Figure 1 depicts unintentional opioid-related deaths in Onondaga County from 2012-2017. 

Figure 1 data notes:

Chart includes fentanyl analogs. Data for 2017 are finalized.   

Deaths are through December 2017 and will be updated quarterly at the end of the following quarter.

The categories used in Figure 1 are defined below:

Heroin-related: Heroin alone or in combination with other drugs (non fentanyl)

Fentanyl-related: Fentanyl alone or in combination with other drugs (non heroin)

Both fentanyl- and heroin-related: Both fentanyl and heroin alone or in combination with other drugs

Other opioids: Opioids other than heroin or fentanyl

Figure 2 data notes:  Deaths are through 2017 and will be updated quarterly at the end of the following quarter. Deaths in Figure 2 are included in Figure 1 above. 

Notes:  Data are representative of 2016 final rates. 2016 is the most recent year for which complete data are available.

Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations

In addition to mortality rates, Emergency Department visit and hospitalization rates help to demonstrate the extend of the crisis in Onondaga County.  As seen in Figure 4, Emergency Department visit rates have increased from 2015 to 2016 in all categories.  Additionally, hospitalization rates in Onondaga County are higher than in NYS excluding NYC (Figure 5).  2016 is the most recent year for which complete data are available.

Drug Exposed Newborns


Drug use impacts many families in our community, including some of the youngest residents. Onondaga County has the third highest rate in New York State for newborn drug-related diagnoses, with 300.6 drug-related diagnoses per 10,000 newborn discharges in 2014 (Figure 7).

Figure 7 data note: In some counties data were suppressed because they did not meet the reporting criteria. These counties were excluded from the chart.

Prevention Data

Opioid Prescribing

Between 2014 and 2016, the rate of opioid analgesic prescribing decreased in Onondaga County, Central New York, and NYS excluding NYC (Figure 8) .  The prescribing rate in 2016 in Onondaga County is higher than NYS excluding NYC, but lower than the rate in Central New York (Figure 8). 

Safe Medication Disposal

Onondaga County's Sharps Needles and Drug Disposal (SNADD) program offers a solution for the safe disposal of household medications.  Several medicine and needle drop boxes are located throughout Onondaga County.  Since it's inception, in November 2015, the program has collected 3,025 lbs of drugs.  

Figure 9 data note: 2015 data reflects total pounds collected starting November 2015, when the program was initiated. 2017 totals reflect pounds collected through June 2017. 

Naloxone Administration

Naloxone is a life saving medication that can be administered to reverse an opioid overdose.  

Between 2015 and 2016 there was a slight increase in the number of naloxone administrations reported by Emergency Medical Services in Onondaga County. Reports of administrations for Quarters 1 and 2 of 2017 show a significant decrease comparatively to Quarters 1 and 2 of 2016. (Figure 10). 

Figure 10 data note:  Numbers represent only naloxone administration events reported electronically,  actual numbers of events may be higher. Additional data validation steps have been taken to de-duplicate administrations by multiple agencies for the same patient encounter.

Treatment Data

Adult Treatment Admissions

Figure 11 data note: Clients may have heroin, other opioids, or any other substance simultaneously recorded as the primary, secondary and tertiary substance of abuse at admission.