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HEALTH Issues Warning About Spike in Drug Overdose Deaths

Today the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) reports that there have been 22 deaths due to apparent accidental drug overdose since the first of the year.

This alarming number is twice the number of deaths seen for this same time period last year. The deaths were geographically spread throughout the State, and the age range of the decedents is 20-62 years old. The deaths happened most frequently on weekends, with 18 of the 22 happening between Fridays and Mondays. Tests are still pending on the specific substances involved.

The figures were announced today at HEALTH by Michael Fine, M.D., Director of Health. He was joined by Craig S. Stenning, Director of Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and Lt. Robert S. Wall of the Rhode Island State Police.

The three also highlighted the State's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Prevention Act. This law provides some legal immunity to people who call 911 to report drug overdoses. This law is intended to encourage people to report drug overdoses as soon as possible, even if drugs are present at the scene.

Anyone who is addicted to drugs, or who knows someone who is addicted, should learn about Narcan (Naloxone), an emergency antidote to opioid overdose. Narcan can be used in emergency situations to potentially reverse the effects of drug overdose. It is available without a prescription at all Walgreens pharmacies in Rhode Island.

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Department or agency: Department of Health


Release date: 01-17-2014

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