The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued a potentially life-saving warning to people across the state, specifically in the East Bay.
Health officials recorded a recent increase in non-fatal opioid overdoses in Barrington, Newport, Middletown, Little Compton, Tiverton, Portsmouth, Warren, Bristol, and Jamestown.
The data was recently shown on RIDOH’s Opioid Overdose Integrated Surveillance System, which uses two data sets to identify and track statewide non-fatal opioid overdoses: emergency department (ED) visits and emergency medical services (EMS) runs.
The state evaluates overdose numbers each week and found this past week in the East Bay, there were fewer than 5 non-deadly overdoses from opioids, which is higher than the threshold of one for that region.
Regions 1 and 5 are at the threshold for opioid overdose activity. Region 1, which is compromised of Burrillville, Foster, Glocester and Scituate, had fewer than five reports of ED visits. Region 5, which is compromised of Central Falls, Pawtucket and East Providence, had 10 reports of EMS runs.
“See something that’s unusual, what we do is we alert our partners, we feel like law enforcement should know, EMS should know, fire departments should know, the hospitals should know, healthcare providers should know, and that’s really just letting people know, ‘hey, there’s increased activity in your area,’” he explained.
McDonald previously said he hopes safe injection sites can help prevent fatal and non-fatal overdoses.
It’s estimated that more than 400 people in the state died of an accidental drug overdose in 2021, which would be the most recorded in a single year.
Rhode Island’s drug overdose crisis continues to impact community members across the state. If someone you care about is using drugs, you can do some important things to help.
- Learn the signs of an overdose and how to respond.
- Always have the overdose reversal medicine, naloxone (Narcan), readily available. Request a free naloxone kit and have it shipped to your address for free. You can also get naloxone from a local pharmacy without a prescription from a healthcare provider.
- Connect your loved one to care. Even if your loved one does not want to seek treatment for substance use, encourage them to visit a healthcare provider or clinic to be tested for hepatitis C and HIV, or have other health conditions treated.