By Shira Schoenberg on May 12, 2021

Opioid overdose deaths rise during pandemic


DEATHS FROM OPIOID OVERDOSES increased in Massachusetts during the pandemic, after three years of a steady decline. 

The rise in deaths is an alarming sign and one that experts say is likely indicative of the harmful impacts the pandemic is having on people with substance use disorder. According to data released by the Department of Public Health on Wednesday, there were 2,104 confirmed and estimated opioid overdose deaths in 2020, the highest number ever recorded in Massachusetts. The previous peak was 2,102 deaths in 2016. 

State officials have been working to address the issue. Since the pandemic started, the Department of Public Health distributed 110,000 kits containing the anti-overdose drug naloxone to opioid treatment programs, community health centers, hospitals, and jails. It has created designated treatment units for COVID-positive individuals who need treatment for substance use disorder.  

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