Fatal overdoses on the Southcoast and across Massachusetts continue to rise, according to health and law enforcement officials.
Bristol County is averaging four overdose-related deaths a week in 2016, according to statistics provided by the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
As of September 25, 150 overdose-related deaths had been reported, signaling a rise from 2014, 122 deaths reported, and 2015, 159 deaths were reported.
Fatalities in New Bedford nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015, jumping from 27 confirmed deaths to 48.
Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) shows that the rise in fatal overdoses is not unique to the Southcoast. Since 2013, overdose-related deaths have been on the rise across all counties in the Commonwealth.
It’s difficult to point to one reason for the rise in numbers, but one major contributing factor concerning officials is the increased use of fentanyl. The synthetic drug is estimated to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
In a report by DPH, “among the 439 individuals whose deaths were opioid-related in 2016 where a toxicology screen was also available, 289 of them (66%) had a positive screen result for fentanyl. In the first quarter of 2016, heroin or likely heroin was present in approximately 30% of opioid-related deaths that had a toxicology screen.”
More information about recent statistics, as well as available treatment and recovery options, can be found on the Commonwealth’s State Without StigMA webpage.