More than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and other opioids last year in Massachusetts, according to figures reported by the Boston Globe that provide the sharpest portrait yet of an epidemic that has devastated families across the state. The data, released at an event that included Gov. Charlie Baker and the nation's top health official, show that opioid-related deaths increased 3.3 percent in 2014 compared with 2013. More striking, the number of such deaths last year was 33 percent higher than in 2012. The state said that in 2014, 600 deaths were confirmed as opioid-related with an additional 408 expected to be linked to the powerful drugs. The total of 1,008 would appear to be the highest ever recorded in Massachusetts.
Stories and data shared at a roundtable discussion convened by Baker on opioid-fighting strategies suggest that despite efforts by regulators, law enforcement, and health leaders, every corner of the state is contending with the crisis in abuse of opioids, especially prescription painkillers. “This issue doesn't care about geography. It doesn't care about race,” the governor said. “We have much work to do.” Said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, “Local law enforcement officials are working hard to identify major drug traffickers and dealers in an effort to get this poison off of our streets.”