The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is out with new numbers showing an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths in the state. Deaths increased by 5 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. According to preliminary data recently released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, rates among Black non-Hispanic males making up the largest increase. You can see the data HERE.

There were 2,104 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2020, an estimated 102 more than the prior year and slightly above the previous peak of 2,102 in 2016. This is the first increase in annual opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts in three years and coincides with the extraordinary public health challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Among Black non-Hispanic males, the confirmed opioid-related overdose death rate increased the most – by 69 percent – from 32.6 to 55.1 per 100,000 people, the highest increase of any ethnic or racial group in 2020. 

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Massachusetts is among the states in the country with the smallest increases in all drug overdose deaths. Preliminary data released last month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show drug overdose deaths surged by 29 percent nationally in the year between September 2019 and September 2020, with Massachusetts showing a smaller increase in the single digits. Overall, the 2020 opioid-related overdose death rate of 30.2 per 100,000 people is approximately 1 percent lower than in 2016. That data is available HERE.

The Baker-Polito Administration says it is continuing to invest in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, especially among the Commonwealth’s most disproportionately impacted communities, building on its work to double spending to address this crisis since 2015. 

Recent investments have focused on new intervention efforts among youth and expanded supports for people in recovery, and the Administration’s FY 2022 budget proposal includes a total of $375.3 million across state agencies to address substance misuse, a 7 percent increase over last year. 

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