BOSTON (WPRI) — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts increased by almost 9% in 2021, according to a report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).
The report shows that the Bay State saw 8.8% more opioid-related deaths in 2021 as compared to 2020, with fentanyl being a “major factor driving” the fatalities.
The DPH said in a statement that the increase, “reflects effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly poisoned drug supply, primarily with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.”
In 2021, Massachusetts had 2,290 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths, which is an increase of 185 deaths from 2020.
Three southeastern Massachusetts cities saw a “notable increase” in opioid-related overdose deaths, according to DPH data. Attleboro, New Bedford, Taunton are listed as having had residents overdose between 2020 and 2021.
So far in 2022, DPH has seen a 4% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths compared to last year in the same timeframe. Drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts are also trending lower than nationwide figures.
Fentanyl continues to be a “persistent factor” in these deaths, according to the DPH, while cocaine is the second most prevalent.
The report also broke down data on opioid-related overdose deaths rates in different racial and ethnic communities.
The rate for Black non-Hispanic individuals decreased from 2020 to 2021, while the rate for Asian and Pacific Islanders remained constant. The death rate for white and Hispanic individuals increased, according to the report.