According to the latest findings, no less than 2,000 addicts died from opioid overdoses in 2016 alone in Massachusetts, in spite of multiple campaigns to halt drug use, painkiller abuse, and widespread awareness of the devastating effects brought on by the state’s addiction crisis.
In the report released by the state Department of Health on Friday, February 17th, coroners confirmed drug-related deaths in 1,465 of the total cases and suspected 514 more died of health complications associated with drug abuse. The report further states that opioid overdoses killed five times more Massachusetts residents than car crashes.
Health experts say that the main culprit behind the string of deaths associated with drug abuse is a substance called fentanyl, which could be observed in an increasing number of cases even as heroin-related deaths steadily declined. Researchers say that synthetic fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than heroin.
Authorities investigating illegal opioid distribution and manufacturing within the state’s borders say dealers oftentimes mix this powerful substance with other opioids for a more potent effect. Moreover, fentanyl can also be marketed as an alternative of heroin or mixed with it.
Authorities’ Opinion on the Current Situation
While the public may be shocked about the latest findings, the news comes as little of a surprise for state’s public health commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel who says the results are not unexpected. However, she says she remains positive the situation will take a turn for the better in the future, thanks to the state’s programs and restrictions aimed at the problem, especially measures that combat excessive opioid prescribing, campaigns against stigma, and 500 treatment beds. Nevertheless, she is conscious of the fact completely eradicating the problem will take even more effort and more time.
At the same time, there are others that believe the surge in opioid-related deaths does not necessarily point to an increased number of people on drugs, but rather to the addicts’ inability to comprehend the negative effects of fentanyl. Hence, in spite of the state officials’ restrictions and safety measures, the deadly substance gained a lot of popularity on the black market recently and is outrunning the state’s efforts, says Boston Medical center’s addiction specialist, Dr. Alexander Walley. Even so, if the state would never have gotten involved with the issue, the situation would have been even worse, said Dr. Walley.
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