0215 GMT February 23, 2020
Opioid overdoses were confirmed to have killed 1,465 people and suspected to have killed another 514 over the course of the year, according to an annual report on the crisis released by the state’s Department of Public Health. This represents a roughly 13 percent increase over 2015, masslive.com reported.
Fentanyl— a synthetic opioid often mixed with or sold as a substitute for heroin, contributed to 75 percent of these deaths — making it the prime suspect in the ballooning death toll, especially considering heroin-deaths dipped.
Fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. Fifty percent of those who died tested positive for heroin, indicating the two drugs are often mixed.
The development comes even as more and more treatment organizations add beds to live-in facilities in an attempt to combat addiction and first responders across the Bay State have equipped themselves with drugs like Narcan, which quickly halt overdoses by blocking the body's opioid receptors.
In 2015, opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts hit 1,751, with 1,597 confirmed by the medical examiner.
Gov. Charlie Baker has made fighting opiate addiction a signature issue, upping state spending on abuse prevention and treatment from $120 to $180 million since taking office in 2015.
Heroin deaths outpaced gun deaths nationwide for the first time since 1999.
12,989 Americans died from heroin-related causes in 2015, and 12,979 died from firearms. Overall opioid deaths topped 33,000.