This Year Is On Pace to Be the State’s Worst for Opioid Overdoses

The Department of Public Health released its most up-to-date overdose data.


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Data released by the Department of Public Health suggests opioid-related death rates are still climbing in Massachusetts.

The report, which includes opioid overdose estimates up through September 2016, says there have already been 1,005 confirmed overdose deaths statewide this year, with another 392 to 470 suspected. That rate outpaces deaths during the first nine months of 2015—which is jarring, considering the estimated 1,747 overdoses seen last year made 2015 Massachusetts’ deadliest year to date, in terms of opioids.

Opioid overdoses in Massachusetts have skyrocketed over the past 15 years, increasing by 350 percent in that decade and a half. Between 2014 and 2015 alone, estimated unintended deaths increased by 32 percent. By the end of 2016, sadly, that number looks likely to rise again.

While heroin-related deaths are actually down, overdoses as a result of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, have climbed steadily since 2014. As a result, law enforcement and medical professionals have made stronger pushes to target the pharmaceutical in prevention efforts.

The DPH report also delved into demographic information. According to the data, the overwhelming majority of confirmed unintentional overdose victims this year have been male, about a third were between the ages of 25 and 34, and more than 80 percent were white.