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Five Opioid Drug Related Deaths Occur In MA Each Day

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Five Opioid Drug Related Deaths Occur In MA Each Day, Says Report

In a report issued this week, Massachusetts health officials stated that more than 1,000 people died from opioid overdoses between January-September of 2016. That breaks down to 4-5 opioid drug related deaths in Massachusetts each day. In addition to the confirmed cases, at least another 400 are suspected, and if confirmed, would raise the average even higher.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, overdoses due to heroin have decreased, but deaths related to fentanyl have increased proportionately. Fentanyl is much more powerful than heroin, and is the drug that killed the artist Prince back in April. Opioid overdoses also include prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin.

Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker:

“In our commitment to combat the opioid epidemic, we believe the constant release of data is a powerful tool to help us better understand the trends of this public health crisis. We will continue to utilize every tool available from prevention to treatment to break the cycle of addiction to support healthy families and communities across the Commonwealth.”

There’s no question that Massachusetts has been a forerunner in the U.S. opioid epidemic, and deaths have increased significantly over the past decade. In 2005, there were 554 opioid-related deaths, but by 2015, there were more than 1,500 – a number that nearly tripled.

Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services:

“While we continue to see a decline in the number of deaths involving heroin, the data released today are a sobering reminder of why the opioid crisis is so complex and a top public health priority. This is a crisis that touches every corner of our state, and we will continue our urgent focus expanding treatment access.”

However, the report also presented some good news. There has been a decrease in the number of patients who are given prescription opioids, when compared to 2015. In addition, there has been a new online prescription monitoring tool implemented to help physicians track patient medication and any history of abuse.

All in all, the opioid-related overdose death rate for 2015 increased to nearly 26 deaths per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts (a 32% increase from 2014.) This is much higher than either suicide rates or deaths due to car accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28,000 persons died from opioid overdoses in 2014, and the number of deaths quadrupled between 1999-2014.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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