2021 Coroner’s Report on Accidental Drug-Related Deaths in New Orleans

In 2021, there were (492) accidental drug deaths in New Orleans, a 35% increase compared to (365) in 2020.

In 2021, 77% were male, and 33% were female, similar to previous years.

In 2021, (304) 62% were black, (164) 33% were white, (13) 3% were hispanic, (6) 1% were asian, and (5) 1% were other/unknown. In 2020, (204) were Black, (151) were White, (6) were Hispanic, and (4) were other/unknown.

As in previous years, toxicological analysis in most drug-related deaths revealed the presence of multiple drugs. Because we are missing toxicology results for 30 cases due to these cases being medical record reviews (MRRs)–for which we do not have access to toxicology results–the following numbers/percentage may differ slightly from what they would be, if we had all results.

In 2021, (434) overdose cases cases tested positive for fentanyl, a synthetic opiod. Of the 462 overdose cases for which we have toxicology results (out of 492 total cases), 94% tested positive for fentanyl in 2021. In 2020, (284) 78%, tested positive for fentanyl.

In 2021, (281) tested positive for cocaine. Of the 462 overdose cases for which we have toxicology results (out of 492 total cases), 60% tested positive for cocaine in 2021. In 2020, (148) 40% tested positive for cocaine.

In 2021, (95) tested positive for amphetamines. Of the 462 overdose cases for which we have toxicology results (out of 492 total cases), 20% tested positive for amphetamines in 2021. In 2020, (66) 18% tested positive for amphetamines.

According to New Orleans Coroner, Dr. Dwight McKenna, “The fact that 94% of overdose cases are linked to fentanyl shows our community faces a crisis that grows more severe each year. We are seeing similar high numbers across the country, and it proves just how deadly fentanyl is. This year’s report serves as a warning to make all citizens aware that (highly lethal) fentanyl is regularly being cut into cocaine and street pills. Because of fentanyl, using street drugs in this day and age is like playing Russian roulette with your life.”