Where drug abusers overdose in Connecticut

Rural and poor communities suffered the highest rate of overdoses and it's only getting worse.

Connecticut’s cities by far have the greatest number of drug-overdose deaths, but data show that people in the state’s rural towns can be statistically more likely to die.

Trend CT analyzed data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to look for differences in the number of overdose deaths in urban, suburban and rural communities and in communities with different levels of median income. We looked specifically at place of residence and not place of death so towns with hospitals would not be overrepresented.

Waterbury, Hartford, and New Haven are consistently ranked in the first three towns with the most overdose deaths every year since 2012.

North Canaan and Sprague, though they only had 7 and 6 deaths respectively, led all other towns in the state with rates of 21 and 20 deaths per 10,0000 residents.

In towns with smaller populations, a handful of deaths can throw off the per capita calculations but is most likely felt by the entire community. However, when grouped together, the evidence is hard to ignore: Overdosing in a smaller town carries a higher risk of death.

Recently, the Northwest corner of the state has been hit particularly hard by the epidemic.

Urban versus suburbs versus rural

The box-plot below shows the distribution of death rates by town based on classification.

The five lines in each chart represent, from bottom to top, the lowest per capita rate, the first (25 percent) quarterly, the median rate, the third (75 percent) quartile, and then maximum death rate.

The dots on the chart represent outliers. In the suburb category, North Canaan (21.3), Canaan (20), and Voluntown (15.34) are the outliers.

According to the data, the median death rate for rural towns outpaced the median death rates for urban and suburban areas.

Note, the classifications of the towns followed the guidelines set by the U.S. Census. Cities with all tracts labeled urban are considered urban and towns with zero urban tracts were defined as rural.

Any towns with a mix of urban and rural tracts were labeled suburban. Even if a town was 99.9 percent urban, like New Britain, it was still considered a mix and not completely urban.

The median overdose death rate is getting higher every year in rural areas where it might take longer to get to a medical facility in case of emergency.

Suburban rates of overdose deaths have not surpassed urban rates, though there are several more outliers of high death rates, such as Sprague in 2015.

By income

Towns with lower median incomes tend to have higher rates of death from drug overdoses in Connecticut.

In municipalities where the median household income was less than $66,000, the median rate of death was 7.2 per 10,000 residents. Meanwhile, towns with median incomes of more than $90,000 had a median rate of 2.3.

Other towns appear to be declining in rate. However, the data for 2015 is incomplete.

Most common place of drug overdose injury

Between 2012 and September 2015.
Injury place Total Percent
Residence 1349 70.55%
Other 196 10.25%
Unknown 90 4.71%
Hotel or motel 65 3.4%
Hospital 63 3.29%
Residential building 38 1.99%
Parking lot 15 .78%
Automobile 13 .68%

Source: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

The Medical Examiner's office identified 43 different locations where an overdose victim was injured.

A residence was the most common place emergency personnel found overdose victims at 70 percent.

There were only five types of locations for place of death. Residences was also the majority location for death at 51 percent.

Though hospital were listed at 3 percent of drug overdose injuries, they were the place of death for 34 percent of victims.

Where officials identified place of death

Between 2012 and September 2015.
Death location Total Percent
Residence 984 51.46%
Hospital 649 33.94%
Other 265 13.86%
Blank 265 .68%

Source: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Meanwhile, not everyone who died in Connecticut lived here

Officials couldn't identify the majority of out-of-town deaths, which made up of about 3 percent of all deaths.

Where out of towners who die in Connecticut come from
Between 2012 and September 2015.
New York
New Jersey
Rhode Island
New Hampshire
SOURCE: Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

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