Opioid related deaths down in Massachusetts

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Drug syringe and cooked heroin on spoon_391439

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)–The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) says that preliminary data  shows opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts continue to decline, falling an estimated 6 percent in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the first nine months of 2018.

The new quarterly report found between January and September of 2019, there were 1,460 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts, 99 fewer than the 1,559 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2018.

The decline in opioid-related overdose deaths is occurring despite the continued presence of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, which has risen to an all-time high. In the first six months of 2019, fentanyl was present in 93 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths where there was a toxicology screen, up from 89 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths where there was a toxicology screen in 2018.

The report found that the rate of heroin or likely heroin present in opioid-related overdose deaths has been declining since 2014 – while the percentage of opioid-related overdose deaths where prescription drugs were present has remained stable since 2017. In the second quarter of 2019, approximately 13 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths had prescription opioids present in a toxicology screen.

Learn more about the statewide response to the opioid crisis. To get help for a substance use disorder, visit www.helplinema.org or call the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at (800) 327-5050.

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