Opioid Related Deaths Saw Slight Increase in 2021

HYANNIS – State officials with the Department of Public Health recently reported that opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts rose by 8.8 percent in 2021 compared to the year prior.

According to preliminary data released by the department, there were 2,290 confirmed and estimated opioid related deaths, up 185 from 2020.

Although drug overdose deaths in the state are trending lower than nationwide figures, fentanyl remains a driving force behind the crisis, with the synthetic opioid present in 93 percent of deaths in which a toxicology report was present.

Department officials say the pandemic and its impact on mental health led to increased substance abuse across the state, which combined with an increasingly poisoned drug supply to create an increase in reported deaths.

The budget proposal submitted by Governor Charlie Baker for Fiscal Year 2023 would invest $543.8 million in funds to combat the opioid crisis through education, treatment and recovery programs, including transitional housing, post overdose support teams, and the distribution of life-saving naloxone kits to treatment centers and emergency rooms across the state.

“We continue to be relentless in our commitment to increase access to harm reduction services, low threshold housing and treatment,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

“By working to destigmatize addiction and meeting people where they’re at, including with an expanded array of harm reduction tools, we can reverse this negative trend.”

After fentanyl, cocaine and benzodiazepines were the second and third most prevalent drugs found in opioid related overdose deaths, present in 51 and 31 percent of toxicology reports, respectively.

Department data through the first three months of 2022 show a four percent decrease in opioid related deaths from 2021, with 551 confirmed and estimated deaths in that period. 

To view the Department of Public Health’s current opioid statistics, click here.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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