In 9 months last year, 350 people died of drug overdoses

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — More than 350 people died of drug overdoses between January and November 2020, which the Rhode Island Health Department said was more than any previous year on record.

Officials at the health department said on Tuesday that fentanyl contributed to the large number of overdose deaths. They urged relatives and friends of people who use drugs to know how to use naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose and save lives. Naloxone is sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio.

“Illegal drugs have always been dangerous, but right now they are more deadly than ever,” said department chief Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. “If you do use drugs, do not use alone, and make sure that your friends and family have naloxone available.”

Officials urged those struggling with addiction or mental illness to contact BH Link, a statewide mental health services provider.

The total number of overdose deaths in 2020 is not yet available pending confirmation of the cause and manner of death in some cases. The department has previously said that 40 fatal drug overdoses in July 2020 represent the highest single-month total since the state started tracking the data in 2014.

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