BOSTON (WBSM) — Opioid-related deaths have been an ongoing crisis in Massachusetts, but it appears things are trending in a more positive direction.

Many families have lost loved ones due to the opioid crisis throughout the state. Although it may seem like those numbers are continuously climbing, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released recent data highlighting a decline in rates since 2023.

According to recent reports, Massachusetts already saw a 10 percent decrease in 2023, the largest single-year decline over the past 20 years.

There were 2,125 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths in 2023, which is 232 fewer than in 2022. During that year, Massachusetts had a record 2,357 fatal opioid-related overdoses.

Even with the drug supply heavily contaminated with fentanyl, overdose-related deaths remained to decline in 2023.


In preliminary data, fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opioid, was found in 90 percent of related drug overdoses. It has even been addressed as the greatest urgent drug threat in the nation.

The New Bedford Police Department recently concluded the biggest drug bust in the city's history. Over 35 pounds of cocaine was seized, which is approximately a value of $1 million.

Although cocaine is not considered an opioid, the stimulant drug seizure is still a contribution to combat the drug crisis within the state. With limited access, overdose-related deaths will continue to drop statewide.

How Will the Opioid Crisis Continue to Decline in Massachusetts?

The Healey-Driscoll Administration said that it will continue to build opioid overdose prevention efforts.

A $700 million investment focused on substance addiction prevention, treatment and harm and reduction has been proposed in the administration's Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

Plans for more investments to support communities with greater resources are also being made.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Investments will be focused primarily on those living in communities of color and in the most rural areas of the state, which tend to have the highest opioid-related overdose death rates compared to urban, suburban and less rural areas.

"Our administration continues to invest in community-level supports rooted in destigmatizing substance use disorder by meeting people where they are and understanding the ways in which factors such as housing and economic insecurity intersect with health," Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll said.

Massachusetts will continue efforts to invest in evidence-based harm reduction interventions to reduce fatal overdoses, increase awareness around the tainted street drug supply, and increase access to low-threshold services.

"I want this decrease to offer hope not only to the people struggling with these diseases and their families and loved ones but also to the committed and expert workforce across our state who do this important work every day," Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh said.

"We are hopeful that the numbers released in today's public health report signal a downward trend for fatal overdoses statewide," Walsh said.

Biggest Drug Busts on the SouthCoast

Here are some of the biggest drug busts ever seen in the SouthCoast area.

Gallery Credit: Kate Robinson

Crime Rate Statistics in SouthCoast Towns

Here are the crime rate statistics for SouthCoast communities, utilizing data from 2022, the most recent year available. Annual data is from the Massachusetts Crime Statistics. The number of crimes is a data collection of total arrests, DUI/OUI charges, violent crimes, and hate crimes. The clearance rate is the number of charged crimes divided by the total number of crimes recorded. We listed the SouthCoast towns alphabetically.

Gallery Credit: Ariel Dorsey

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