State Sees Unusually High Number Of Drug Overdoses In The First Weeks Of 2014

Jan 17, 2014

22 Rhode Islanders have died this month from apparent drug overdoses. It's an unusually high number for the first two weeks of January, and the Rhode Island health department is urging caution.

Two to three people die from drug overdoses each week in Rhode Island.
Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

The Rhode Island Health Department is warning residents about a spike in apparent drug overdose deaths since the beginning of this month. Twenty-two Rhode Islanders, ages 19 to 62, have died, mostly on the weekends, throughout Rhode Island.

Health officials say they don't know yet what drug is behind these accidental deaths.  The state's Medical Examiner is investigating.

This is more than double the number of overdoses during the same two weeks of January last year. Typically in Rhode Island, two to three people die every week from drug overdoses, much of it from heroin and prescription painkillers.

Last spring, 14 overdose deaths in Rhode Island were linked to a never-before-identified synthetic opioid called acetyl fentanyl . Opioids are narcotic painkillers like morphine and Oxycontin.

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