MA opioid-related death rate falls 1.5% in first 9 months – Boston News, Weather, Sports

BOSTON (AP) — Opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts fell 1.5% in the first nine months of this year compared to the same time last year, preliminary data released Wednesday shows.

The state had 1,696 confirmed and estimated opioid overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2022, which is about 25 fewer deaths than in the same period in 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Health said. The department found that the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2021 – 2,301 – was up 9.4% from 2020.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, was detected in 94% of deaths in the first six months of 2022 when a toxicological report was available. Cocaine was included in 53% of toxicology reports in the first half of this year, up 6% from the same time last year.

Last year, more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses — the highest number in US history. Preliminary Government Data suggests that the number of drug overdose deaths in the US has stopped rising this yearalthough officials caution that past plateaus have not lasted.

Governor Charlie Baker said tackling the opioid epidemic has long been a priority for his administration, which has worked with the Legislature to increase funding. The government’s fiscal 2023 budget includes $597.2 million for harm reduction, treatment and recovery programs and other drug addiction programs, the Health Department said.

“We are proud of our efforts to make these services more accessible and available to individuals and their families across Massachusetts, but also recognize that the work must continue, especially given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which has exacerbated drug abuse here and there across the country,” Baker said in a statement.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)

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Sarah Y. Kim

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