According to the statistics, the rates of opioid deaths increased for the sixth year in a row in Massachusetts with fentanyl accounting for 75 percent of all fatalities. The officials from the health department reported 1,465 opioid deaths in 2016.
However, this is just the confirmed death toll as the health officials believe that the mortality rate of unreported cases ranges between 469 and 562. All these people most likely died from overdoses, but the health department is still waiting for the final confirmation.
Based on the estimates, the number of opioid deaths can go up to 2,000 despite the officials’ efforts to contain the state epidemic. The public health specialists and the authorities are on high alert because the number of drug-related deaths tripled over the past five years.
The report revealed that that the number of fatalities increased by 13 to twenty-four percent last year compared to 2015 when 1,579 deaths were confirmed. Also, other 154 suspected overdose deaths were recorded in 2015, more than two times lower than the current estimates.
Although fewer heroin-related deaths were reported in 2016, fentanyl became a major public health concern in just a few months. Based on the toxicology screens, this drug was found in 75 percent of cases. Fentanyl is not just cheaper than heroin, but also up to fifty times more powerful.
The opioid epidemic is widely spread across the country, so many other local communities have been affected by fentanyl. The lawmakers are doing their best to come up with new regulations that will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.
This drug is difficult to detect by consumers. Plus, it is often mixed with heroin, thus increasing the risk of an overdose. More precisely, the consumers are unaware that they might have purchased fentanyl instead of heroin.
Therefore, they have a higher risk of suffering from an accidental overdose. The opioid epidemic is difficult to eradicate because heroin and fentanyl are increasingly common on the streets. Unfortunately, many doctors prescribe painkillers on a daily basis.
That is why the government has tried to reduce the number of prescriptions, and it worked. According to the statistics, the number of opioid prescription declined by 15 percent last year compared to 2015.