New York City's transit hubs have become a haven for opioid addicts, as the Big Apple itself has become a center for illegal fentanyl use, The New York Times reports.
Opioid overdose deaths increased dramatically among New York State residents in 2015 and 2016, and was almost three times higher in 2016 (15.1 deaths per 100,000 people) than it was in 2010 (5.4 per 100,000), according to the NYS Department of Health. Additionally, "opioid pain relievers," which includes illicit fentanyl and its analogues, contributed to the majority of overdose deaths.
In New York City in 2016, there were nearly four drug overdose deaths each day, totaling 1,425, or an increase of 488 since 2015.
Opioids include both prescription opioid pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine, as well as illegal opioids such as heroin, illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and opium.
Dimitri Mugianis, a counselor at New York Harm Reduction Educators, told the Times the drug users in the city are "looking for a better life," and resources, shelter, and support are easier to come by than in other places.
But some come to access drugs easier, too.
Fentanyl is cheaper in New York City than in small cities, according to several people the Times spoke with, and the drugs arrive at transit hubs all the time – arrests at the subway stations connected to Penn Station, Port Authority, and Jamaica Station in Queens were up 55% since June, per the NYPD.
"These people are in critical condition," said Barbara Blair, the president of the Garment District Alliance, which represents businesses and property owners in the area between Penn Station and Port Authority. "There has to be a new model for what is essentially a crisis."
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