In the first six months of 2021, the city of Chicago saw fewer opioid-related deaths compared to 2020, according to data released Thursday by the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Officials reported 467 opioid-related deaths in January through June 2021, compared with 573 during the first six months of 2020. That marks an 18.5% decrease in opioid-related deaths.
The number of opioid-related emergency medical service responses also fell during the first six months of the year, with 5,517 reported in 2021 compared to 7,301 in 2020.
“We saw a troubling rise in opioid-related overdoses and deaths in 2020 during the pandemic, so it’s nice to see this trending downward,” said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady in a statement. “But there are still too many opioid-related overdoses happening, and our work continues with our many community and health care partners to combat this epidemic.”
Of the 467 opioid-related deaths in 2021, about 90% involved fentanyl, according to officials who said that’s a slight increase from 2020.
The report also found opioid-related overdose deaths were the highest among Black men ages 55-64 in both 2020 and 2021. According to the city’s Healthy Chicago 2025 report, opioid-related overdose deaths are among the top drivers of the 8.8-year life expectancy gap between Black and white Chicagoans.
During the first six months of the year, all 77 of the city’s community areas were affected by opioid-related overdoses, but they remain concentrated on the city’s West Side, according to CDPH data.
The city’s Austin neighborhood had the highest number of opioid-related overdose emergency medical service responses during the first half of the year, followed by West Garfield Park and Humboldt Park. Those three communities also had the highest number of opioid-related deaths, according to CDPH data.