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Is the Rhode Island Department of Health Promoting Illicit Drug Use to Prevent Fentanyl Overdose?


According to CDC statistics, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. topped 100,000 annually in 2021.

Per the CDC:

Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.

The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Cocaine deaths also increased, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).

The provisional data presented in this visualization include: the reported and predicted (estimated) provisional counts of deaths due to drug overdose occurring nationally and in each jurisdiction; a U.S. map of the percentage changes in provisional drug overdose deaths for the current 12-month ending period compared with the 12-month period ending in the same month of the previous year, by jurisdiction; and the reported and predicted provisional counts of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs or drug classes occurring nationally and in selected jurisdictions.

Drug overdose is a far greater health crisis for young Americans than COVID-19. As stated by the NSC Injury Facts:

The 25- to 34-age-group is experiencing the most opioid overdose deaths – 12,537 – a 4% increase from 2018, and a 921% increase since 1999. Currently, 73% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54…

To alleviate this problem, you’d think our health departments would educate the public on the dangers of drug use and the risk of overdose.

The public message should attempt to discourage drug use in general, right?

But instead, the Rhode Island Department of Health teaches people how to use their drugs ‘safely’ to lower their risk of an overdose.

Yes, a public health department actually recommended people do this.

Fentanyl is responsible for many drug overdoses in America, and the Rhode Island Department of Health offered tips on taking drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and counterfeit prescriptions to avoid fentanyl overdose.

Prevent Overdose RI states:

I can get the supplies that I need to stay healthy

  • You can get new syringes at a pharmacy near you or at a syringe exchange. In Rhode Island, you can get these supplies at mobile outreach/office-based syringe exchange locations like those run by Project Weber/Renew (401-383-4888) or ENCORE (401-781-0665). You can call to learn more about the specific programs run by both organizations.
  • Fentanyl test strips are easy to use tests to see if your drugs have been mixed with fentanyl. Learn more about fentanyl test strips.
  • You can prevent infections by doing basic things before you use drugs, like washing your hands with soap and water, using new supplies, and swabbing your skin with alcohol. Learn more about how to prevent an infection.
  • There are things you can do to stay healthy while injecting drugs like using new needles and supplies, rotating injection sites and using sterile water every time you use drugs. Learn more about how to take care of yourself when injecting drugs.

I can get naloxone and stop an overdose

  • You should learn how to use naloxone to stop an overdose – fentanyl is deadly and can make you overdose quickly so you need to act fast.
  • You can keep naloxone with you every time you use drugs. Naloxone is the only way to stop an opioid overdose. Find out where you can get naloxone.
  • You can tell people about the Good Samaritan Law, a law that protects you from getting arrested if you call 911 when someone is overdosing, whether you have drugs on you or not.

I can have someone with me when I use drugs

  • You want someone with you when you are using drugs. Take turns using – that way one of you can call 911 if there is an overdose.
  • You can learn how to use naloxone to stop an overdose in case you see someone overdosing.
  • Did you know that more than half of the people who die from an overdose are using more than one drug at a time? You can be safer by using just one drug at a time.

Instead of offering proper rehabilitation to help citizens beat drug addiction, the Rhode Island Department of Health simply enables the behavior.

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