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Despite Recent Surge, Overdose Death Rate on the Decline

December 14, 2018
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LOWELL -- Despite a recent surge in fatal opioid overdoses in the area, officials anticipate a 12 percent decline in Middlesex County overdose deaths from last year.

As of Dec. 9, State Police detectives have responded to 186 fatal overdoses so far this year in Middlesex County, District Attorney Marian Ryan reported at Friday’s Lowell Opioid Task Force meeting at Lowell General Hospital.

Officials expect this county figure to remain below 200 deaths by the end of the year, about a 12 percent decrease from last year’s total of 222 overdose deaths.

In 2016, 251 people died from overdoses in Middlesex County.

“This is a testament to the partnership work and the focus we’ve been doing up here,” Ryan said at the Task Force meeting.

“We measure by these numbers, but it does not cause us to lose sight of the fact that every mark on that map is someone’s child,” she added. “It’s a family that has been impacted by this.”

Earlier this month, Fire Chief Jeff Winward activated the surge response after three people died from overdoses in Lowell, and several other people overdosed. Officials reported a lethal batch a pills mixed with fentanyl.

The day after the chief’s warning alert, the overdose numbers went down.

“I just want to commend the chief for his hard work and saving lives out there,” Corey Belanger, chair of the Mayor’s Opiate Task Force said Friday.

In the alert, Winward asks residents to not use opiates. However, he says that if they are going to use, don’t use alone.

“It seems to have worked. We had a pretty quiet week this week,” Winward said. “People are aware.

“We ask family members to keep an eye on their loved ones,” he added. “We often find people who are passing away are up in their bedroom by themselves.”

For more on this story, read Saturday’s edition of The Sun and visit www.lowellsun.com .

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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