Drug overdose deaths continue rising in Rhode Island

By: The Associated Press


WESTERLY, R.I. – Health officials say drug overdose deaths continue rising in Rhode Island, with a spike in fentanyl-related deaths last year.

The state health department said Wednesday that there were at least 326 drug overdose deaths in 2016 and 57 percent of those were fentanyl-related.

That’s compared to 290 deaths in 2015, of which 47 percent were fentanyl-related.

The department says the number of deaths caused by prescription drugs has dropped over five years but deaths caused by illicit drug use are rising, with more overdoses caused by fentanyl.

The department tells The Westerly Sun that a task force is working on strategies to prevent people from developing substance use disorder and to intervene if they do.        The number of overdose deaths could rise slightly as the department completes its 2016 data.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017