In the first 9 weeks of this year, 55 Rhode Islanders have died from apparent drug overdoses. Overdose has been the number one cause of accidental death in Rhode Island since 2008, but the problem has been drawing more attention in recent days because of the surprising number of deaths this year alone. Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter Kristin Gourlay has been at work on a documentary about drug overdose and addiction since well before the flood of recent headlines.
Rhode Island's health department director says 45 Rhode Islanders have died from overdoses so far this year. Concerns are growing that a dangerous combination of heroin and Fentanyl is continuing to kill unsuspecting users. The state medical examiner is still investigating, but Fentanyl is suspected in many of these deaths. It's a powerful painkiller, up to 80 times more powerful than heroin. In combination it can kill even habitual users quickly. There's an antidote for overdoses from opioids like heroin and other painkillers. It's called Narcan.
A community forum on drug overdose and addiction drew a standing room only crowd at the Miriam hospital last night. Organizers hope to keep the conversation going beyond the evening’s speeches and questions.
Help us remember those we've lost to drug overdoses.
Overdoses are claiming more and more lives in our communities. We invite you to share memories of loved ones and friends you've lost to a drug overdose on this shared map. Just drop a pin on the place where the overdose happened or where your loved one lived (no street numbers, just street names, corners, places, etc.), add your loved one's name and date of death, and share a memory or two - a sentence, a word, a prayer, whatever you'd like.