Deaths from drug overdose decrease after years of constant increases

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – State health officials say the number of deaths per Accidental drug overdose in Rhode Island declined in 2017 after years of steady increases.

There were 323 deaths last year, compared to 336 in 2016. That is approximately a 4 percent decrease.

Health Department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott says it's a "little boost" that's energizing.

Alexander-Scott says that a new program to treat inmates for opioid addiction in prison contributed to the decline.

Rhode Island began evaluating all inmates for opioid addiction in 2016 and began providing medication-badisted treatment. [19659011] The state uses three drugs approved by the government for opioid addiction.

Prison systems with treatment programs generally provide only one medication to some inmates.

Although death from overdose generally decreased in Rhode Isl and, deaths related to fentanyl increased by approximately 5 percent. There were 205 deaths related to fentanyl last year.

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