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Some communities seeing a surge in overdose deaths

January 20, 2014

Headlines in my home state of Rhode Island about an unusual spike in drug overdose deaths in recent weeks, accompanied by few theories among health officials as to why, left me wondering whether other regions of the country are seeing similar trends.

I posed that question to members of our active Addiction Professionals group on LinkedIn, and New York state addiction counselor Barbara Mazer replied that much the same has been occurring in her community in Putnam County.

Mazer wrote, “Trends—young people in their early 30s are dying of overdoses of heroin—a lot of which is fentanyl. Parents are in the dark and scared, community groups are springing up, most addictions to heroin in this demographic are starting with doctor prescriptions for pain pills.”

Rhode Island officials say it appears that the potent opioid analgesic fentanyl or a fentanyl-like substance also has been present in the majority of the overdose cases they have seen this month.

Other LinkedIn group respondents pointed out that overdose prevention initiatives in some communities have decreased death rates from overdoses, but as one group member wrote, “any death is one too many.”

What has been happening in your community? Are patterns in overdose data promising or troubling right now?

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