Opioid Overdose Deaths In Massachusetts Continue To Rise, Led By Fentanyl
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s quarterly report, there were more than 1,900 confirmed opioid overdose fatalities in the state last year, a 16% increase from 2015. That’s an average of more than five residents dying each day.
Heroin was found in about one-third of the deaths, but it’s far more potent cousin fentanyl was found in more than three-quarters (77%) of deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with effects similar to heroin but can be up to 50 times more powerful. It’s also the drug that killed the artist Prince last year.
The report from last month is the first to reveal 2016 information on overdose deaths for each town and city in the state. Last year, emergency medical personnel responded to an incident related to opioids or an overdose in more than 300 of the 351 communities in Massachusetts.
In the last few years, the number of deadly overdoses has jumped dramatically. In 2010, there were 560 fatalities related to opioids, and the new numbers reflect an increase more than three-fold.
There is some comforting news, however. As the number of deadly overdoses continues to rise, it is rising at a lower rate. In 2014, there was a 40% increase from 2013. From 2014 to 2015, there was a 31% increase. That is now down to a 16% increase from 2015 to 2016.
The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services is slated to receive over $131 million in 2018, funding that would go to investments in addiction treatment beds, new recovery centers, and improve the availability of the anti-overdose drug naloxone.
Gov.Baker’s administration announced in May that nearly $12 million in federal funding will be used to expand community overdose prevention programs and outpatient opioid recovery programs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, the last year available, more than 33,000 Americans died from overdoses related to prescription opioids or opiates.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology