Mass. Drug Deaths Rise; Feds Eye OxyContin


A new federal study shows Massachusetts drug deaths have shot up 12 percent, which authorities say is the disturbing result of the OxyContin craze and the flow of cheap heroin into the state.

According to a study by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug-related deaths in the Boston area increased from 374 in 2001 to 419 in 2002 – the highest total in five years.

And while most major cities have shown few signs of OxyContin woes, the powerful painkiller known generically as oxycodone killed 49 Bay Staters, making it the fourth-deadliest drug in Massachusetts.

Judy Ball, project director for the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which authored the study for the federal agency, said comparisons to other similar-sized cities confirm Boston’s OxyContin problem.

In Detroit and Dallas, for example, there were 842 and 439 drug deaths respectively, but oxycodone was not among the top 10 deadliest narcotics.


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