LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – An educational event is being held at the Ludlow High School to help prevent accidental poisoning from counterfeit pills and drugs.

According to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), opioid-related overdose deaths in the state increased by 8.8 percent from 2020 to 2021. The new data suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic and, “an increasingly poisoned drug supply, primarily with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl,” have contributed to the trend.

2,290 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021

The DPH said that there were 2,290 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021. That’s an estimated 185 more deaths than the prior year.

Preliminary numbers for 2022 outlined in the DPH report

Westfield and Ware were among the communities that saw increases in opioid deaths over that time frame, while Chicopee saw a decrease. Drug overdose deaths in the state continue to trend lower than the nationwide figures.

A presentation called “Preventing Accidental Poisoning” is being held on Tuesday, August 16th at the Ludlow High School hosted by Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, the DA’s Youth Advisory Board, first responders, and medical professionals.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “The online availability of counterfeit pills and drugs is alarming, especially through social media commonly used by teenagers. This event is the first step in our efforts to alert the general public, especially parents of teenagers, to this growing threat facing young people. The types of substances available and the way they are distributed is changing. The community needs to be aware of this in order to protect their loved ones.”