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Massachusetts Opioid Summary

Revised February 2018

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

Massachusetts was among the top ten states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2016, there were 1,821 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Massachusetts—a rate of 29.7 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. Since 2012, deaths attributed to heroin overdose have increased from 246 deaths to 630 deaths. The most dramatic increase was seen in the number of overdose deaths attributed to synthetic opioids rising dramatically from 67 deaths to 1,550 deaths from 2012 to 2016.

This graph shows the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts compared to the United States from 1999-2016. In 2016, the opioid overdose death rate was 29.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in Massachusetts, versus 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in the United States.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2015, Massachusetts providers wrote 59.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (4.07 million prescriptions) in 2015. In the same year, the average U.S. rate was 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (IMS Health, 2016).

This graph shows the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts from 1999-2016. In 2016, there were 1,821 opioid-related overdose deaths: 1,550 involved synthetic opioids, 630 involved heroin, and 351 involved prescription opioids. Categories are not mutually exclusive because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

The incidence of NAS in Massachusetts increased nearly sixfold from 2.2 per 1,000 births in 1999 to 12.5 per 1,000 in 2012. A 2013 analysis of data from 28 states found an average NAS rate of 6.0 per 1,000 births (CDC, MMWR, 2016). 

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, 9.1 percent (3,5941) of the 39,513 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 8.2 percent (2,6141) of cases among men and 13.2 percent (980) of cases among women were transmitted via IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2014, 955,081 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection-a rate of 299.5 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 18.1 percent (131,0561) of males and 22.6 percent (52,013) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2015, 600 occurred in Massachusetts, with 12.5 percent1 of new cases in males and 19.3 percent of new cases in females attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2014, an estimated 19,290 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Massachusetts—a rate of 334 infections per 100,000 persons. Of these, 27.3 percent1 of males and 32.1 percent of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).  

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, there were 181,871 reported cases of chronic HCV and 33,900 estimated cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Where data were available, 64.2 percent of acute cases reported IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with HCV, including approximately 2.7 million living with chronic infections (CDC).
  • State Incidence: In 2015, Massachusetts reported 9,079 cases of chronic HCV and 333 cases of acute HCV at rates of 43.7 cases per 100,000 persons and 5.1 cases per 100,000 persons, respectively. Of the chronic HCV cases, 22.8 percent (2,066) reported IDU. From 2007 to 2015, Massachusetts reported 76,958 cases of chronic HCV and 1,953 cases of acute HCV. Of these, 28.3 percent of chronic cases and 61.6 percent of acute cases were attributed to IDU (Mass.gov).
  • State Prevalence: Current state prevalence data are not available. As of 2010, an estimated 74,100 (1,440 cases per 100,000) persons were living with HCV in Massachusetts (HepVu).

The National Institute of Health Funds Center of Excellence in Pain Education

This is the logo for the NIH Pain Consortium: Centers of Excellence in Pain Education.

Massachusetts is home to one of the eleven Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs): The Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Center of Excellence in Pain Education. The CoEPEs act as hubs for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other schools to improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.

Additional Resources

NIH RePORTER FY2017 NIH-funded projects related to opioid use and use disorder in Massachusetts: 22

Notes

  1. Includes transmission to individuals with injection drug use as a risk factor.
  2. 2015 estimate after adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting. Data for 2015 were unavailable for Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

This page was last updated February 2018

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