Massachusetts State Police reveal a rise in opioid-related deaths

State police investigated 877 suspected opioid overdose deaths last year.

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The opioid epidemic is getting worse. Massachusetts State Police investigated 877 suspected opioid overdose deaths last year, which is 16% more than 2015.

Franklin County residents disagree on the best approach to solve the issue.

“Awareness and more education at the initial contact with both doctors and pharmacists,” said Bill Draper of Gill.

“We need to trap down our border security of drug lords, Mexican drug lords who bring drugs across the border into our communities, and it needs to stop,” said Jared Raymond of Bernardston.

The powerful painkiller, Fentayal, is being blamed for the increase in deaths. It can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

The Recover Project on Federal Street in Greenfield is a non-profit organization that works with community members struggling with drug addiction. It’s director, Michael Lewis, told 22News the opioid epidemic has to be a priority for both the federal and state governments.

“This opioid crisis, which is from coast to coast top to bottom, is being ignored and that’s very dangerous,” said Lewis. “It’s a huge society issue and we need to look at that.”

Lewis said  there needs to be more focus on long-term solutions for people in recovery including better housing, detox centers, and transportation.

Men made up more than 75% of those opioid deaths, with 37 being the the average victim’s age.

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