Report: Opioid-related deaths fell in 2017 in Massachusetts - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Report: Opioid-related deaths fell in 2017 in Massachusetts

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There's encouraging news today in the fight against opioid related overdose deaths.

Numbers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show that overdose deaths are down eight percent last year.

Last year's numbers reflect a dramatic change in the direction of those overdose death numbers.

From big increases in the previous years to a drop in those deaths last year.

"It's obviously very heartening.  We're encouraged by it, keep our spirits high as we continue to work to make this an issue of the past," said Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.

Gulluni told Western Mass News that the reason for the decrease in opioid related deaths is multifaceted, including strong law enforcement arresting drug dealers and including an education component stressing the dangers of opioid abuse to parents and their children.

The latest numbers from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show an eight percent drop in the number of opioid related overdose deaths as compared to dramatic increase in opioid deaths for the previous three years .

Gulluni is hopeful the decrease is a trend.

"The work that the D.A.'s office, sheriff's department, Governor Baker are doing around this issue is going to take hold and have an effect." Gulluni explained.

Also encouraged by the latest statistics is the Center for Human Development, which is on the front-lines helping families who have addicted loved ones.

"Services are more readily available and physicians and pharmacies are aware of dosing and prescriptions," said Lois Nesci, CEO of Center for Human Development.

Increasing the number of treatment beds is also a key component.

"We, in particular, opened a program a year ago for adolescent males considered previously unserved and this program specifically for these young men to get treatment for substance abuse, we'll see more of this," Nesci added.

One disturbing statistic from the DPH is the rate of fentanyl present in toxicology of opioid related deaths, reaching 83 percent of opioid related deaths last year.

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