Massachusetts has one of the highest overdose death rates in the United States. However, it is also among one of the first states to report a decline in opioid overdose deaths. It is suggested that this epidemic would be much worse without a wide range of action that has already been taken such as more prescription monitoring by doctors and nurses, a limit on first time opioid prescriptions being written, more treatment beds throughout the state, and a campaign to end the discrimination and shame associated with addiction. According to a chart posted on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Overdose deaths in Massachusetts saw a significant spike from 2014 to 2016. 2016 saw the highest number of overdose death thus far with 2,102. From 2017 to 2019 the number of overdose deaths has slightly declined each year with 2,050 in 2017, 2,002 in 2018, and 1,952 in 2019. This is an overall 6% decrease in drug overdose death from 2016 to 2019. They also noted the prevalence of Fentanyl and other drugs in these overdose deaths by saying:
Among the 1,873 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2019 where a toxicology screen was also available, 1,752 of them (94%) had a positive screen result for fentanyl. In 2019, heroin or likely heroin was present in approximately 24% of opioid-related overdose deaths that had a toxicology screen. Cocaine was present in approximately 42% of these deaths and benzodiazepines were present in approximately 33% and amphetamines were present in 7% of opioid-related overdose deaths that had a toxicology screen. Since 2014, the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in opioid-related overdose deaths has been decreasing while the presence of fentanyl is still trending upward.
Fentanyl is an extremely powerful and toxic opioid that is stronger than heroin, yet is mixed in with heroin to offer a better “high” for the user at a cheaper cost. This deadly combination has been the driving force in drug overdose deaths across Massachusetts in recent years.
A Small Decline in Opioid Deaths Across Massachusetts
Within the first three reported months of 2020, the number of opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts is continuing to decline in comparison to past years. In the first 3 months of 2020, there are 467 overdose-related deaths. This is 28 fewer compared to the same time period in 2019. Within the current COVID pandemic, the Department of Public Health is doing what they can to keep drug overdose deaths down. They have provided over 13,000-naloxone kits and over 1000 survival kits, which include naloxone, in order to help reduce the risk for accidental overdose deaths during this time. They are also working to expand access to telemedicine to licensed facilities and to medications that are used to treat substance abuse disorders.
Long Way to Go For Massachusetts to Overcome Opioid Addiction
While there are hopeful signs that opioid overdose deaths in MA might be on a small decline, there is much work to be done. Men and women are dying by the thousands as a direct result of opioid addiction and state-funded treatment programs are often at full capacity. That’s why at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, our mission is to assist those individuals and families with solution-focused treatment as quickly as possible. There are programs offered by the State of Massachusetts that aim to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid abuse and dependency. The Department of Public Health and the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services has started a campaign called State Without StigMA. The purpose is to end the stigma around drug addiction because this stigma is oftentimes what keeps people from seeking treatment when they need it. They aim to show others that addiction is not a choice, but rather a chronic disease that needs treatment just like other diseases.
Evidence-Based Treatment for Substance Abuse
If you or a loved one is struggling with the disease of addiction, an overdose death does not have to be the end of your story. You can be treated and you can recover from your addiction and lead a happy, fulfilled life. Our location here in Cohasset, MA, provides a top tier level of care for each of our patients. Our team of qualified professionals is available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns you may have. It is time to put the pain and misery of addiction in your past and rebuild your life into something you are proud of. Now is the time to make the change. We want to help you do it!