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City Issues Health Advisory Regarding Overdoses

Worcester, MA (August 6, 2014) - The Worcester Division of Public Health has issued a Health Advisory regarding a spike in opioid-related overdoses. At least nine people have died of apparent drug overdoses in Worcester since August 1; this represents a significant increase in drug-related deaths. In all of 2011, Worcester saw 22 drug-related deaths.

The Worcester Police Department is investigating the recent string of deaths, which serve to highlight a larger, and growing, problem. The WPD Detective Bureau is working closely with the Office of Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. on the investigation.

The abuse of illicit and prescription drugs continues to be a major issue across the Commonwealth and the nation, with high levels of abuse and deaths associated with opioids. Worcester is not immune. The Worcester Division of Public Health is reaching out to community substance abuse prevention groups to advise the people they serve about these recent incidents.

The Worcester Division of Public Health encourages emergency departments and emergency response services, health care providers, substance abuse treatment service providers, public safety first responders and the public to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying suspected overdose patients and taking appropriate action.

The Good Samaritan Law provides protection 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.

AIDS Project Worcester's Overdose Prevention and Narcan distribution program trains opioid users and their families, providers and first responders on how to prevent, recognize and intervene during an opioid overdose using nasal Narcan.

Learn to Cope, which has a chapter in Worcester, also has a number of invaluable programs for the families of those dealing with substance abuse.

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