Report: Massachusetts opioid overdose deaths down, presence of fentanyl up

Franklin County

Fewer people are dying from drug overdoses in Massachusetts, but deaths from fentanyl are soaring.

The Department of Public Health recorded 20 fewer opioid deaths through the first nine months of this year compared to last year. Greenfield Police officers see more fentanyl than any other opioids.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be a bullet or a knife that stops you. We’ve seen it multiple times where officers have been exposed without realizing it, said Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh.

The DPH blames Fentanyl for 90 percent of drug overdose deaths from April to June. Fentanyl is a very potent, synthetic opioid that is often mixed in with heroin and other drugs.

Nearly half the inmates at the Franklin County Jail in Greenfield have heroin or opioid addictions. Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan said they’re seeing more inmates than ever addicted to fentanyl. 

“People are buying cocaine marijuana other substances without knowing that fentanyl is in it, said Sheriff Donelan. “And if there is fentanyl and a large amount, and they are not aware of it, that’s where the death comes in.”

Sheriff Donelan told 22News the jail’s medication-assisted treatment program has been crucial in reducing opioid cravings and helping to get inmates’ lives back on track.   

The state was awarded $36 million in federal funding last month to expand overdose education and access to medication-assisted treatment programs.

To read the full Massachusetts Department of Public Health report, click here.

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