Current Opioid Epidemic Statistics In Massachusetts

In the first nine months of 2021, 1,613 people died from opioid-related overdose deaths, the majority of which involved fentanyl, followed by cocaine and heroin. Men make up the majority of opioid overdose incidents.

Current Opioid Epidemic Statistics In Massachusetts

In the U.S., 70% (46,802) of all overdose deaths in 2018 involved opioid drugs. In Massachusetts, there were 1,233 overdose deaths in the first nine months of the same year.

These overdoses are increasingly due to powerful synthetic opioids, such as drugs in the fentanyl family.

In Massachusetts, the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths began to skyrocket around the year 2013, and have been climbing ever since. 

In the third quarter of 2021, 469,000 Massachusetts residents were prescribed opioids, which is a 44% decrease from 2015 (841,990 people were prescribed opioids in 2015).

People in the state may accidentally overdose after taking too high of a dose or as a result of an effort to manage opioid cravings.

How Many People Died From Opioid Overdoses In Massachusetts This Year?

In 2020, there were 2,106 opioid-related deaths in the state of Massachusetts. 

This is a 5% increase in overdose deaths compared to the previous year, and very close to the 2016 peak of 2,110 deaths.

According to a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), there were 1,613 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in the first nine months of 2021.

This is a 1% increase (21 more deaths) as compared to the first nine months of 2020. There is currently no data to review for opioid use in 2022.

These numbers reveal an increasing need for better policies related to opioid prescribing and for friends and family members to watch for signs that their loved one has an opioid addiction.

Top Opioid Drugs Causing Overdose Deaths In Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the most commonly abused opioids that are leading to overdose are synthetic fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin, respectively.

Opioid drug overdose stats:

  • Fentanyl: Present in 92% of opioid-related deaths in the first half of 2021.
  • Cocaine: Present in 52% of opioid-related deaths in the first half of 2021.
  • Heroin: Present in 9% of opioid-related deaths. This rate has been declining since 2014.
  • Benzodiazepines (benzos): Slowly declining since 2018.
  • Other opioids: The number of amphetamines and prescription opioids in opioid-related overdose deaths remained the same in 2021.

Massachusetts Opioid Overdoses: Age, Race, And Gender

Data from 2021 has shown important information regarding the age, sex, and race of people who overdosed on opioids.

In 2020, people between the ages of 25 and 44 made up 50% of all opioid-related deaths. People aged between 45 and 64 years old made up 40% of these deaths.

Massachusetts Opioid Overdoses By Race

The following statistics describe the opioid-related incidents by race from 2019 to 2021. 

Here are several key findings from the DPH report:

  • Black non-Hispanic men made up the largest increase in opioid overdose death rates. 
  • The opioid overdose rate for Black non-Hispanic residents increased 63%.
  • Opioid-related overdose death rates for white non-Hispanic residents decreased between 2019 and 2020.
  • Opioid overdoses among Asian Pacific Islander non-Hispanic residents increased about 27% between 2019 and 2020.
  • Between 2019 and 2020, the opioid-related overdose death rate for Black non-Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander non-Hispanic, and Hispanic men increased.

These opioid use and abuse rates point toward a need for equity of treatment and drug education.

Massachusetts Opioid Overdoses By Gender

In Massachusetts, the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths among all women increased by 15%. In the same time period, these rates decreased for white non-Hispanic men.

In cases of opioid incidents where the age and sex of a person are known, adult men ages 25 to 34 represent the greatest number (22%) of opioid-related incidents.

In 2020, men comprised 73% of all opioid-related overdose deaths.

However, women’s use of opioids is still increasing:

  • The rate of opioid overdose among Black non-Hispanic women increased 32% 
  • The rate among Hispanic women increased by 68% 
  • There was an 8% overdose increase for non-Hispanic women

How Is Massachusetts Handling The Opioid Crisis?

The state government has put together the Massachusetts Overdose Prevention Collaborative Grant Program in response to the opioid crisis in Massachusetts.

This program aims to implement new local policies, practices, and systems to prevent the misuse of opioids as well as fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses.

They do this by implementing strategies that are:

  • in line with protocols from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • evidence-based
  • approved by the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS)

Find Treatment For Opioid Addiction In Massachusetts

Opioid addiction treatment centers in Massachusetts provide mental health and substance abuse recovery programs for people affected by the opioid epidemic.

If you or someone you love are addicted to opioids, you can find help with a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, inpatient rehab, or another recovery program.

We’re here to help people living with opioid addiction in the New England area. Call Recovering Champions to learn more about opioid treatment in Massachusetts.

Written by
Recovering Champions Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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