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Rhode Island seeks spike of drug overdose deaths in 2020

April 14, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Accidental drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island jumped by 25% in 2020 over the prior year, to their highest level since records have been kept, state health officials said Wednesday.

There were 384 accidental overdose deaths last year, most involving opioids, according to the state’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, which released the final overdose data for the year during a virtual briefing.

That was up from 308 in 2019.

The previous high was 336 in 2016. The records date to 2009.

Fentanyl was involved in about three out of four overdoses in 2020. Cocaine-involved overdoses also increased in 2020. Three out of four cocaine-involved deaths also involved fentanyl. Alcohol was involved in about one-third of the deaths.

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Three out of four overdose deaths in 2020 were among men. Most of the overdoses were in people ages 35 to 44.

In 2019 and 2020, Black Rhode Islanders had the highest rate of fatal overdoses, compared to the white and Hispanic populations.

The state is responding to the overdose issue with the distrubition of 10,000 naloxone kits, an overdose reversal medication.