Worcester overdoses lead to health advisory after 9 die in August

Health officials in Worcester have issued an advisory after a spike in opioid-related overdoses. At least nine people have died in the city since Aug. 1.

Police say pure heroin being distributed in Camden is to blame for 15 overdoses in a 24-hour period.  Credit: Getty Images Opioid abuse is believed to be responsible for the recent Worcester deaths.
Credit: Getty Images


Nine people in Worcester have died since the start of the month from suspected opioid-related overdoses causing the city to issue a public health advisory.


Worcester health officials issued a public health advisory on Wednesday because of the spike in opioid-related overdoses.


Worcester said the number of deaths in the first six days of this month represent a significant increase in drug-related deaths. In all of 2011 there were 22 drug-related deaths in the city.


"The Worcester Division of Public Health encourages emergency departments and emergency response services, health care providers, substance abuse treatment service providers, public safety first responders and the public to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying suspected overdose patients and taking appropriate action," city officials said in the advisory.

Police are investigating the recent string of deaths.

The problem is one that has been seen across the state this year.

Gov. Deval Patrick in March declared a public health emergency in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of unintentional fatal opioid overdoses increased 90 percent, according to the state. In 2012, 668 Massachusetts residents died from unintentional opioid overdoses, a 10 percent increase from 2011. And in the five-month period between November 2013 and March 2014, state police reported that at least 140 people died of suspected heroin overdoses in communities in which they respond to homicides.

In February,Revere’s health officials issued an advisoryafter a spike in opioid overdoses. Between the start of the year and the end of February, there were 44 calls for help for opioid-related overdoses in Revere.Also in February, Boston Mayor MartyWalsh said that he wants all of the Hub’s first responders to begin carrying Narcan, the overdose reversal drug.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.

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