Drug overdose deaths are spiking across the county

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Drug overdose deaths are up about 7% in Massachusetts from September 2019 to September 2020, according to a recent CDC report.

“We’ve had high overdose rates, you know pretty consistently, so any increase is not good, but there are areas of the country that have a 50% increase, a really sharp increase,”  Lisa Blanchard, Vice President of Clinical Services, Spectrum Health Systems said.

Lisa Blanchard helps run addiction treatment centers across Central Massachusetts. She said fentanyl is partly to blame for a 28% increase in overdose deaths across the country.

“It’s so potent and it keeps kind of being changed and adjusted,” Blanchard said. “It’s just high risk, to use opiates in general because of how strong the fentanyl is. And then when you add that in to the isolation of the pandemic. Then, I think that’s why we’re seeing this precipitous climb in overdose deaths,” said Blanchard.

Blanchard said using drugs and being in isolation is a bad combination.

“Using kind of by yourself puts you at higher risk of overdose because there’s nobody there to even call for help, or use Narcan, or to reverse that overdose,” said Blanchard.

Health leaders have also found some people in long term recovery are relapsing during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Blanchard reminds people there is addiction treatment available during the pandemic through in-patient services and Telehealth. 

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