Rhode Island has drug overdose death rate - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Rhode Island has drug overdose death rate

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

Drugs are killing Rhode Islanders at an alarming rate - whether they are legal prescription drugs like these, or illegal drugs.

The Health Department says 182 people in the Ocean State died from overdoses last year.

Ross, a recovering drug addict, was almost one of them.

"I mean I easily could have been six feet under the ground, instead of where I am today, you know, and it definitely scares me, you know, (sighs)," said Ross, the recovering drug addict.

Most of the deaths come from legal drug prescriptions that are abused.

"This is clearly an issue that is of major importance to Rhode Island from a public health perspective," said Dr. Michael Fine, Rhode Island's Health Director.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "One thing Rhode Island has done is establish a database, to try to help doctors from over prescribing certain medicines."

That's because some patients do what's known as "doctor shopping" - getting multiple prescriptions from multiple physicians.

"If somebody comes in and is getting regular opiates from you, and you don't know that they are also getting regular opiates from other people, you might think you are just treating pain, and in fact you have a diagnosis of opiate addiction," said Dr. Josiah Rich, from Brown University and Miriam Hospital

That sounds like Ross's story.

He got legal painkillers for a hand injury, and then got addicted from there.

"I was using every day from there. I got introduced to Oxycontin, which then led to heroin use."

Rhode Island has more drug overdose fatalities that any other state in New England.

 

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