The grim statistics for 2015 are in and the bad news is that the Heroin and opiate epidemic in Massachusetts and New Hampshire is still raging.
Essex County had 165 heroin- and opiate-related Overdose Deaths in 2015, up 19 from 146 reported in 2014, according to statistics compiled by the office of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. Lynn reported the highest number of overdose deaths with 34. Haverhill was second in the county with 20.
On the North Shore, there were 16 overdose deaths in Salem, 12 in Beverly, nine in Peabody and four in Danvers.
In New Hampshire, overdose deaths also soared in 2015 with a projected total of more than 400 people. That’s up from 326 fatalities in 2014, according to a report by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins noted that epidemic of heroin use has left few people untouched.
“It’s just heartbreaking because everyone knows somebody,” Cousins told reporter Jill Harmacinski.
The numbers show that, despite the strong start made by community activists, municipal leaders and legislators in battling the heroin and opiate crisis, the power of addiction remains strong. This was never going to be an easy fight. The rising numbers of overdose victims show that plainly.
Part of the problem is the spread of fentanyl, a powerful, synthetic opioid painkiller. Fentanyl is often cut into heroin to stretch the drug. But the combination makes the heroin on the street more potent than users are accustomed to. Their usual dose ends up being a fatal overdose.More than half of overdose fatalities last year in New Hampshire were tied to fentanyl, Harmacinski reported. And in both New Hampshire and North of Boston, some overdose deaths were caused entirely by fentanyl.
Read the entire Salem News article here.