Opioid Epidemic: In March, 2014, the Governer of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency due to the growing abuse of opioids including prescription synthetic opioids as well as Heroin. Since that time, the number of overdose deaths in the United States has, for the first time, surpassed the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents.
Massachusetts reported 1,282 confirmed opioid overdoses in 2014 and 1,379 in 2015. The Center for Disease Control reports that the number of overdose deaths since 1999 has quadrupled in the United States. They estimate that between 2000 and 2014 approximately half a million people died from drug overdoses. That is approximately 78 Americans per day. Overdoses from prescribed opioid pain medication appears to be the driving factor in the 15 year increase in overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has also quadrupled as well despite there being no change in the amount of pain that Americans report.
Accessibility and availability of inexpensive Heroin has also played a role in the number of deaths that have been taking place accross the country. Massachusetts, like many states in the U.S. have developed a task force dedicated to the prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery of this disease.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health collects overdose death data to track the progression of the opioid crisis and target services to especially hard-hit communities.
The following report contains both confirmed and estimated data through June 2016. The number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths for 2015 represents an 18% increase over 2014, and the 2014 number represents a 41% increase over cases for 2013. Based on the data available as of 06/30/2016, The Department of Public Health estimates that there will be an additional 47 to 67 deaths in 2014 and 107 to 150 deaths in 2015, once these cases are finalized. For the first 6 months of 2016, the number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths was 488, with an estimated additional 431 to 509 deaths. Current estimates for the first 6 months of 2016 are higher than the first 6 months of 2015. (This information taken from the following website: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/stop-addiction/current-statistics.html).