Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths Falling In Massachusetts

Opioid-related overdose deaths declined during the first nine months of 2017, compared to same portion of the previous year. That number is higher than the total number of deaths in 2014, but marks an improvement from the estimated 1,637 deaths from January to September of past year.

If the trend holds true through the final quarter of the year, it would be the first time since 2010 that opioid-related overdose deaths have declined, the DPH report shows. "We continue to focus on a strong public health approach of prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery and to strengthen the treatment system".

Compared to the first nine months of 2016, this represents a decrease of about 10 percent.

Opioid-related overdose deaths are continuing to fall in MA. While fentanyl was originally designed as a medical drug when it was developed in the 1950s, it has since become a popular additive to street heroin due to its low cost and potency.

Synthetic fentanyl sold illegally continues to be the leading factor in overdose deaths, with the drug found in eight out of 10 deaths for which a toxicology screen was performed.

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Each pill contains the face of someone who has died because of an opioid overdose, according to the report.

The Governor's Office pointed to steps the state has taken to address the crisis, including increasing substance abuse prevention and treatment funding, limiting first-time opioid prescriptions and strengthening the monitoring of prescription opioids.

The confirmed opioid-related overdose death rate for Hispanics doubled in three years from 15.8 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000-population in 2014 to 31.5 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000-population in 2016, a almost 100 percent increase.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, said having access to timely data provided in the quarterly reports allows for a more immediate public health response to the epidemic.

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