Mass. report largest single-year decline in opioid-related overdose deaths in twenty years


Massachusetts skilled a ten% drop in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2022 to 2023, the most important single-year decline over the previous twenty years and a pattern that’s anticipated to proceed based mostly on early information from 2024, in accordance with a report launched Wednesday morning.

However at the same time as specialists with the Division of Public Health signaled a victory lap was so as due to the lower, officers warned of “concerning data” on opioid-related overdose deaths when statistics had been damaged down by race and ethnicity that might mood any celebrations.

Whereas opioid-related overdose loss of life charges amongst amongst white, non-Hispanic males decreased by 16% from 2022 to 2023,  the speed really elevated amongst Black non-Hispanic males, in accordance with the report.

“I want to state this clearly, this is yet another example of racism as a serious public health threat, and it reflects the decades of racism inherent to the war on drugs,” Division of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Robert Goldstein stated throughout a Tuesday briefing forward of the discharge of the report.

However the general drop within the variety of opioid-related overdose deaths might mark a major turning level in Massachusetts’ combat in opposition to extremely addictive medicine which have plagued the state for many years and minimize brief the lives of many.

The confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose loss of life price in 2023 was 30.2 per 100,000 individuals, a drop from 33.5 individuals per 100,000 individuals in 2022, which itself was a 2.5% improve over 2021, in accordance with state information.

There have been 2,125 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2023, or 232 fewer than in 2022, when Massachusetts had a report 2,357 deaths.

Goldstein stated fentanyl continues to be a driver of deaths right here and “there’s increasing identification of multiple substances in toxicology screening done following death, highlighting, yet again, our poisoned and lethal drug supply in the state.”

It’s nearly “impossible” to attribute the drop in deaths from 2022 to 2023 to at least one single issue however pointed to “one of the best naloxone distribution programs in the country,” Goldstein stated.

“We have naloxone everywhere in every community so that people can use it. We have really pioneered the use of certain service programs in this state, and to use a harm reduction lens in everything that is being done, and I think that has brought a lot of visibility and has brought resources to people,” he stated whereas additionally ticking off a drug-checking program and an overdose prevention hotline that has to date detected 13 overdoses and a couple of,591 “use events.”

Opioid-related overdose loss of life charges amongst males decreased from 2022 to 2023, a change pushed by a 16% lower within the loss of life price amongst white, non-Hispanic males, the one race and ethnicity to see a major change, in accordance with the report.

“In comparison, opioid-related overdose death rates increased since 2022 among Black non-Hispanic men. And although this was not a statistically significant change, the rate remains historically high, and the trend continues to increase,” Goldstein stated.

American Indian males have persistently led the pack with the very best price of opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts, in accordance with Goldstein.

“Similar trends are seen in the data for women in Massachusetts, with inequities growing over time. In 2023, rural level two communities, our most rural communities, have the highest age-adjusted opioid-related overdose death rate at 35.6 deaths per 100,000 residents,” Goldstein stated.

The loss of life price in 2022 was one of many worst on report as fentanyl, a lethal drug, was present in most deadly opioid-related overdoses. Deaths had already been steadily growing year-over-year earlier than the spike that 12 months, Goldstein stated Tuesday.

“Looking at the data, we can see that the increases in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2020 to 2022 were mainly attributed to Black, non-Hispanic and Hispanic males, with the rates decreasing in white, non-Hispanic males during this time,” he stated.

After deaths mounted in 2022, the Division of Public Health launched a report backing supervised injection websites, arguing they had been an “evidence-based, life-saving toll that is aligned with a comprehensive, public health approach to substance use and overdose risk.”

Municipalities in Massachusetts have labored in earlier years to acquire funding and arrange pilot websites they usually have been utilized in Europe, Australia, and Canada for many years. Health officers additionally argued that lawmakers right here wanted to place in place authorized legal responsibility protections for suppliers.

“We continue to work with our colleagues in the Legislature to try to get those legal liability protections passed codified into law so that we can move forward and support communities as they want to open up overdose prevention centers,” he stated.



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