We hear about it almost on a daily basis from the news and the paper. Opiate deaths have climbed to incredibly sad numbers. The numbers have reached epidemic proportions and there is no question that we have a health crisis going on in this country. One state that is being hit incredibly hard is Massachusetts. According to a new report that was just released, more than one thousand people are believed to have died statewide from heroin and other opiate-related overdoses last year alone.
The 1008 deaths mark a 33 percent increase since 2012 and could be the highest ever recorded in the state according to state officials. Massachusetts recorded 967 either confirmed or estimated fatal overdoses in 2013. These numbers were “previously unseen in Massachusetts,” according to a report by the Governor's office. The death rate, per 1000 people, also tripled between 2000 and last year.
Governor Baker was set to meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and his opioid task force for a roundtable discussion earlier today. These stunning figures come nearly a year after then Governor, Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in the wake of a string of opiate overdose deaths.
The numbers have created panic around the state as parents are looking for answers on how to help their children. Many town-hall meetings have begun to spring up and citizens are starting to ask questions about what needs to be done to help curb this issue. When drug use increases, crime grows with it and many safe towns have seen their crime rates jump significantly. People sometimes believe that drug abuse only affects the addict, but in most cases it has a huge impact on the community as well
The saddest thing about these numbers is that Massachusetts is not the only state with a high number of overdoses. I receive phone calls all the time from people who say they have lost a loved one from either a heroin overdose or prescription painkillers and they just want to ask me some questions about the power these drugs have over a person. It never gets easier and as time goes on, I honestly do not see a clear resolution to this problem. For a good part of the past 15 years, prescription painkillers have been prescribed extremely leniently and we are now seeing the repercussions from that. I truly hope that the numbers of opiate overdoses begin to drop but this is not something that will change overnight.