2,000 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts indicate rising fentanyl dangers

Massachusetts recorded an increasing number of opioid-related deaths that indicate the rising the growth of the highly-potent opioid fentanyl.  The state is one of the hardest hit in the nation in that respect.

Recent years have seen an exponential growth in the increase in number of deaths related to opioidsin Massachusetts. The numbers increased from 918 deaths in 2013 to an estimated 1,979 deaths in 2016, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health..

“The opioid epidemic continues to threaten individuals and families all across Massachusetts and the country,” the state’s governor, Charlie Baker, said in a statement last week..

Baker said the state is trying to stem the increase of the drug epidemic by “further increasing treatment options and expanding support for law enforcement and their efforts to arrest and convict drug traffickers who prey on vulnerable people, selling them more and more deadly and addictive substances.”.

One of the most known illicit opioid is considered to be heroine but fentanyl appears to be more deadly to drug users in the state. The department found 75 percent of 1,374 opioid-related deaths to be positive for fentanyl..

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is mainly prescribed for chronic pain in advanced cancer, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can be 50 to 100 times more powerful than heroin..

But the state revealed that the fentanyl they observed most is the illicit variety, which is in form of powder often mixed with either cocaineor heroin to intensify its effects. Users of illicit fentanyl may be unaware that they are being exposed to a much more lethal substance..

The number of fentanyl encounters doubled across the U.S. from 5,343 in 2014 to 13,882 in 2015, as perthe CDC. Massachusetts recorded more than a 500 percenthike, along with Pennsylvania,New Hampshire, and Ohio..

“We are committed to ending the opioid epidemic and will continue our efforts no matter how long it takes,” Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said last week, adding that the governor’s new budget proposed $145 million for funding to help treat and prevent substance abuse.

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