The World’s Epicenter of Drug Overdoses Pt. 2

Bonsu Thompson
3 min readMar 17, 2022

America’s death by narcotics epidemic lives mainly where the poorest and darkest people reside

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Although the United States is the global leader in drug overdose deaths, its national leader is New York City. Inside the Rotten Apple, a person dies every seven hours from narcotic use. Break the city’s death rate down by its five boroughs and you’ll see that the capital of the overdose epidemic is the Bronx.

NYC’s most northern sector averages about 400 overdose deaths a year. Over the last half decade, it has not only led the other boroughs—by a large margin—in unintentional death by drugs, but has also seen its numbers climb annually. In 2018, the X reported over 100 more deaths than its runner up, Brooklyn. The fact that Brooklyn has a larger population is irrelevant to the math. The same for the reports from city officials that the native drug crisis is on the decline.

Before COVID-19’s arrival, NYC’s death by narcotic use rate began to plateau. A closer look revealed that each borough exhibited decrease or steadiness. The Bronx was the only NYC borough with numbers that continued to ascend. Once the pandemic hit, the numbers rose everywhere. Nowhere more prominently than in the Bronx. It took only three quarters of 2020 (two quarters of a pandemic) for the BX to reach its 2019 total for death by unintentional overdose.

There’s no coincidence that the world’s epicenter of drug overdose deaths is comprised of New York City’s poorest communities.

There’s no coincidence that the world’s epicenter of drug overdose death is comprised of New York City’s poorest communities. 30% of all Bronx residents live below the poverty line. That number rises in the borough’s poorest section: the South Bronx (NYC’s lowest poverty rate is around 6% in affluent communities like the Financial District and Upper East Side). The South Bronx’s poorest residents live in areas like Hunts Point, Belmont and East Tremont—the same sections with the greatest volume of overdose deaths. They’re also three of the city’s top five neighborhoods with the most hospitalizations per 100,000 people. In addition to hospitalizations caused by narcotic abuse, they also lead their borough and city in medical…

Bonsu Thompson

Bonsu Thompson is a writer, producer, Brooklynite and 2019 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow.