In an encouraging development, the Wall Street Journal reported today that
Several [New England] states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, are on pace to record fewer overdose deaths in 2017, compared with the year before.
This follows years of fast-rising death tolls in the region, which has long been a hot spot for fatal overdoses. State officials say their efforts, ranging from widespread distribution of an overdose-rescue drug to expanded treatment access, are starting to bear fruit. * * *
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said nationwide opioid deaths rose nearly 28% to 42,249 in 2016. The annual number of U.S. opioid deaths has about doubled since 2010. * * *
The New England states aren’t alone in setting new policies to fight the opioid crisis, but they sometimes lead the pack. The National Conference of State Legislatures has noted that Massachusetts was first to pass a law putting very tight limits on opioid prescriptions last year. By August this year, NCSL counted similar laws in 24 states.