Opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts drop in first half of 2019


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The number of Massachusetts residents who have died from opioid-related deaths has decreased by nearly 11 percent in the first six months of 2019.

According to a quarterly report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the amount of deaths in the state has been on a downward trend since 2017.

However, it’s a trend that’s going in the opposite direction in western Massachusetts.

According to the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and data by the Department of Public Health, the number of overdose deaths in Hampden County during the first six months of this year have risen in comparison to the first six months of last year.

Sherrif Nick Cocchi told 22News, “As much as we’re trying to educate and have people abstain from using, the amount of people still engaging is very high.”

Sherrif Cocchi said more focus will be put toward getting adequate treatment to those who need it.

“That’s where I think we are falling a little bit short,” Sherrif Cocchi said. “It’s adequate treatment, a substantial treatment where we can get someone on the path to recovery long enough where they can start to feel better about themselves and have the support they need when those tough days come.”

One of those support methods will be a Narcan pop up program conducted by the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said he plans to have Narcan available in neighborhoods so residents can address the problem right away.

“This is an ongoing program in which we’ve been providing Narcan to first responders but we now want to get it in the hands of citizens, of people who know they’re around people with addiction,” Gulluni told 22News. “We’re going to go out to neighborhoods where people can walk to get Narcan and save a life with it.”

Gulluni plans to start that program sometime next month.

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