Opioid-related deaths continue to decline in Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — Opioid-related deaths are continuing to decline in Massachusetts, falling about 4% from 2016 to 2018.

Despite the decline, state health officials say there were still 497 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in the first three months of 2019 — a rate of more than five deaths a day.

The Department of Public Health says the gradual decline in overall deaths comes despite the presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. In 2018, fentanyl was present in the toxicology of 89% of those who died of an opioid-related overdose and had a toxicology screen.

The progress has been uneven across the state with communities like Brockton and Weymouth reporting a noticeable decline in 2018 compared to 2017. Others — like Springfield, Framingham and Lawrence — experienced noticeable increases.

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