CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A recent study ranked Rhode Island 11th in the country for most overdose deaths caused by fentanyl.
The study, conducted by the Health Testing Centers, analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Drug Enforcement Agency throughout 2018.
Back in 2015, the same study ranked Rhode Island 3rd in the nation for most fentanyl overdose deaths.
Tommy Joyce of the East Bay Recovery Center believes the state’s improvement in ranking has to do with the creation of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.
Joyce added that new initiatives within the recovery and treatment communities have also played a positive role.
“By making Narcan available and educating the public that it does save lives, I believe that’s why the ranking is where it is today,” Joyce said.
Rhode Island’s death rate for fentanyl overdoses stands at approximately 11 deaths per 100,000 people, according to Health Testing Centers. Neighboring Massachusetts, which ranks 10th in the study, stands at roughly 12 deaths per 100,000 people.
Linda Hurley of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare said it’s important to note how the numbers have improved within the last few years.
“I think we need to look to what we have accomplished,” Hurley said. “We have seen extremely positive results in an effort to increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder.”
While she believes the state has made strides to combat the opioid epidemic, there’s still a long way to go.
She said it all starts with treatment.
“There are a whole lot of folks out there healing and recovering from this disease every day,” she said.