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Overall opioid-related deaths down in Massachusetts but up in Franklin County

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Opioid-related deaths decreased in Massachusetts for a second consecutive year but in Franklin County, that number has actually increased in the last year.

"It just reminds us that we can't get complacent, we still have a lot of work to do," said Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that opioid-related overdose deaths declined by four percent from 2017 to 2018.

The Opioid Task Force Coordinator for Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region told 22News, Franklin County bucks that trend.

According to The Northwestern District Attorney's Office, opioid-related deaths more than doubled in this region. The Franklin County Sheriffs Office has joined forces with the task force to address this issue.

Donelan said, "It's very frustrating. We just had notice of a guy who was released from this facility, probably six or eight months ago, recently passed away. Very young, had his life ahead of him, it's heartbreaking but it reminds us that this is very serious."

Donelan told 22News, the access to fentanyl and the mixing of fentanyl with other drugs has become problematic in this region.

The Opioid Task Force said they're doubling down on efforts to save lives with help from local, state and federal partners.

"Local law enforcement in Franklin County is looking to along the lines of what they're doing in Hampshire County with law enforcement being involved in follow up visits for people who are having overdoses," said Donelan.

Donelan told 22News, the Sheriff's Office is working to strengthen its post-release support for inmates leaving jail with their sobriety, housing, and work.


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