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RI sees a surge in deaths from drug overdose in a coronavirus pandemic

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Providence, Rhode Island — The Governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force reports a surge in deaths from overdose in recent months compared to the same period last year. In the first half of this year, the number of deaths from overdose in the state increased significantly, an overall increase of a quarter.

According to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health, drug-related overdose deaths increased by 24 percent from January 1st to June 30th compared to the same period last year. Deaths from opioid-related overdose were even more severe, increasing by 33% over the same period.

Deaths from overdose are increasing on Rhode Island in 2020. (Rhode Island Health Department)
Rhode Island is set to enter a record year of death from overdose in 2020, more than 25% above its previous record year of 2014, according to Task Force findings.

“Increased mortality from drug overdose precedes COVID-19 and is likely to be exacerbated by COVID-19,” the Task Force explained in a study. “The crisis has changed, but the root cause of this change is unclear. The turmoil means that we may be missing out on a life-saving opportunity.”

The Task Force pointed out some “early themes” that could be behind the increase, noting that there was no single answer. These include the rise of illicit fentanyl, racial equality issues, lack of treatment options, lack of street reach and harm mitigation, and the pandemic itself. ..

“COVID-19 highlighted the already deteriorating vulnerable systems and individual situations,” said the Task Force, pointing out the problems of isolation and shelter capacity reduction and reusing people in recovery. Prompted.

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