Richard Ross

Police Commissioner Richard Ross said opioids are killing more Blacks in Philadelphia than gunshots.

— PHOTO BY ABDUL R. SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

Once perceived as a largely white rural problem, more African-Americans in Philadelphia are dying as a result of opioid-related overdoes than they are of homicides.

According to numbers compiled by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, 269 African-Americans overdosed in 2016 as part of a total of 907 opioid-related deaths. That same year, 235 African-Americans were victims of homicide in the city.

Through the first nine months of 2017 there were 248 African-American deaths due to opioid-related overdoses. Conversely, in all of 2017 there were 253 African-American homicides, according to the Philadelphia Police Department.

The Department of Public Health reported 956 opioid-related deaths through the first three quarters of 2017. However, projections by the agency are that there will be approximately 1,200 total overdose deaths. That projects to as many as 330 African-American deaths via overdose.

Last year the city recorded 313 homicides, the most since 331 were slain in 2012.

“A lot of people don’t know that,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard J. Ross said Friday during a Philadelphia Tribune Editorial Board meeting. “In this city, more people of color are dying from Opioids than they do of gunshots.”

Philadelphia, particularly North Philadelphia east of Broad Street, has become a hotspot for Opioids on the East Coast. Much of this is attributable, Ross said, to the focus that has come by way of media attention here such as an NBC Nightly News broadcast that highlighted librarians from the McPherson Square Park branch in Kensington administering the anti-overdose drug Narcan to an overdose victim.

This highlights the problem, Ross said.

“You would think that if we put a spotlight on an area where there have been ‘x’ number of overdoses that the average addicted person would stay away from that,” Ross said. “No, they flock to that – even if it’s killing people – because now they know where they can get the best drugs. It’s a weird dynamic but it’s real, and it lends itself to a major issue.”

Opioid deaths among African-Americans is not just a growing problem in Philadelphia; nationally it is on the rise as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate for all Americans from Opioids is up with Black Americans experiencing a 4 percent increase.

According to the 2017 report, the drug death rate is rising most steeply among Blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64 among the hardest hit.

Drug deaths among Blacks in Urban counties rose by 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group. In those same counties, the drug death rate among whites rose by 19 percent.

There are also indicators that African Americans here and in other urban areas are more frequently using fentanyl, a synthetic Opiod. In 2016, for instance, Cleveland, 58 of Cleveland’s 399 fatal fentanyl overdoses were African-Americans. Officials believe the drug was being covertly introduced to the African-American population there and elsewhere through cocaine.

Ross has continued to struggle with safe injection sites, or comprehensive user engagement sites, facilities that would allow people to use drugs and facilitate access to medical care and drug treatment. Once staunchly against it, the epidemic has him looking at it a little differently now.

“I will tell you when I don’t have the answer,” Ross said. “People are dying all over the place. And as a public safety official I do view that as part of my responsibility. I’m not saying that means I should be for safe injections sites. But I struggle with watching people drop and die with the frequency that they are.”

(6) comments

Cecil A. Hankins

Instead of looking at the easy way out of a crisis that involves opening the doors to liability for the taxpayers of the city and supporting the addiction of individuals with illegal substances, why not look internally at the fail system of drug treatment prevention and intervention in this city. Do we need another layer of bureaucracy in this city? I think not. If only the city would work with the state office of Drug Programs and separate the Office of Addictive Services with one head responsible for the coordination of Drug and Alcohol abuse perhaps we can see a different in drug deaths, but first this administration must look at it current system of fee-for -service and eliminate the buying and selling of addicted individuals to the highest buyers to fatten their pockets as they pretend to treat folk with addictions. This is all about the almighty dollar and no one really care, it will get worst if the data change to more black folk dying. We spend 1.18 billion dollars a year on Behavioral health services alone, and helping addicts get high on illegal chemicals is the best answer we can come up with?

vcowen

God Bless Edward Jones Loans for Helping Me In Time Of Need {Jonesloanfinance@yahoo.com}

Good Day I am Vanessa Cowen from California and i have a broken up business, until i found this company who help me to gain a loan for business, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the company for the fast and safe funds they loan to me without any form of delay, i loan 180,000.00USD from the company at a very low interest rate of 2% to save my business and lots more. i first saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my funds was sent to my account within 24hrs, i was surprise and feel glad, now i now have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact them now via email : {jonesloanfinance@yahoo.com} OR Text him +1(307) 217-5388.....

Guest

[sad]

I'm a hard working tax paying single mother holding down 2 jobs to make it & I too have been diagnosed with an illness.

I don't receive my blood pressure mess for free to help me from stroking or going into cardiac arrest and die. So, providing safe injections sites disgruntles me deeply. Obesity is an illness, but no-one has a free program for overweight people to get help. They suffer from diagnosis that lead to deathly illness.

Addiction & its issues are problematic...I do agree. It just seems provisions are continually being made to preserve the life an addict deppreciates because they're recycled through recovery programs. They're able to get free health benefits such as eyeglasses, dental work, gym memberships & more off taxpayer dollars. Meanwhile taxpayers are forced to choose between which necessity is most important.

I don't desire for addicts to die. However, I do desire for healthcare reform to extend the same services to all.

Guest

I agree with you.

Wendy Ryan

I'M NOW FULFILL FINANCIALLY BECAUSE OF THE LOAN I GOT FROM UPSTOXFUNDING INC.{ upstoxfunding@yahoo.com }

I would like to bring this to the notice of the public about how i came in contact with Upstoxfunding INC after i lost my job and being denied loan by my bank and other financial institution due to my credit score. I could not pay my children's fees. I was behind on bills, about to be thrown out of the house due to my inability to pay my rent, It was during this period my kids were taken from me by foster care. Then i set out to seek for funds online where i lost $3,670 that i borrowed from friends which i was rip off by two online loan companies. Until i read about: ( upstoxfunding@yahoo.com ) somewhere on the internet, Still wasn't convince because of what i have been through until a relative of mine who is a clergy also told me about the ongoing loan scheme of Upstox funding at a very low interest rate of 2% and lovely repayment terms without penalty for default of payment. I have no choice than to also contact them which i did through text (302) 273-5794. That day was the best and greatest day of my life which can never be forgotten when i receive a credit alert of $124,000Usd loan amount i applied for. I utilized the loan effectively to pay up my debts and to start up a business and today i and my kids are so happy and fulfill. You can as well contact them through email: upstoxfunding@yahoo.com OR call or text their helpline: (302) 273-5794. Why am i doing this? I am doing this to save as many that are in need of a loan not to be victim of scams on the internet. Thanks and God bless you all, I'm Wendy Ryan from Arizona, United States.

Guest

NO STRESS/DELAY LOAN @ 2% INTEREST RATE with Victoriafinancier@outlook.com

I just came online to know more about how to approach banks or take a pay day loan with low credit scores. Then i founds numerous write up and articles on different sites of how Victoria Financier Firm help people, firm and organizations with loan @ 2% interest rate. With the knowledge i got online, I contact the Victoria Financier with: Victoriafinancier@outlook.com, i explain my self. I applied for $60,000 but she approved $40,000 and it was the $40K i received in my account. Write mail to the Victoria Financier now with: Victoriafinancier@outlook.com

*Full Name:_________

*Address:_________

*Tell:_________

*loan amount:_________

*Loan duration:_________

*Country:_________

*Purpose of loan:_________

*Monthly Income:__________

*Occupation__________

*Next of kin :_________

*Email :_________

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.