Reported drug overdoses in the town of Bourne did not rise in 2019—nor did they go down.
Statistics provided by Bourne Police Lieutenant Brandon M. Esip show that police responded to a total of 64 overdoses in Bourne this past year, compared with 63 overdoses in Bourne in 2018.
Also relatively unchanged from last year is the number of deaths in Bourne resulting from overdoses. A year ago, five people died from overdoses. Statistics this year showed an increase to six deaths
Lt. Esip said that was still a cause for concern.
“Fatals are up, so that’s not a good thing,” he said. “Six fatalities over the year is still a high number.”
Lt. Esip said that when the number of fatalities dropped to five last year, the hope was for a continued downward trend. The increase, however modest it may be, shows “there is still a problem out there,” he said.
Of the 64 reported overdoses this year, 45 were caused by opiates. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health defines opiates as including “heroin, illicitly manufactured fentanyl, opioid-based prescription painkillers, and other unspecified opioids.”
A year ago, 2018, Bourne recorded a total of 43 overdoses caused by opiates. Additionally, there were 17 overdoses attributed to prescription drugs, alcohol or marijuana, which is down from 19 last year.
While the most recent two years of data regarding overdoses is neither encouraging or discouraging, a comparison of 2015 and 2019 is more reassuring. In 2015, the town saw a total of 85 overdoses, with 60 caused by opiate use. Additionally, 13 people who overdosed died.
A similar set of statistics were recorded in 2017 when there were 84 overdoses, with 60 caused by opiates. That year, eight people died as a result of an overdose.
Both 2015 and 2017 had significantly higher totals than the most recent two years. As for the entire five-year period from 2015 to 2019, statistics show a total of 360 overdoses. In that period of time, 252 overdoses were attributed to opiates, and 99 to either prescription drugs, alcohol, or marijuana.
Police department records show a total of 40 people who died over those five years.
Lt. Esip also pointed out that the department’s statistics only include those overdoses to which officers responded. He said there are people who are overdosing but being treated by a family member or friend. That is because products, such as Nalaxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose, can be purchased at a local pharmacy.
“Back then, before Nalaxone was available,” he said, “the actual number of overdoses was probably more accurate.”
Lt. Esip said that has been no change in the demographics when it comes to people who overdose. He said the victims run the full gamut of the societal spectrum and factors such as social class, finances, or even age, do not matter.
He added that most of the instances of someone overdosing “are first-time to us.” He acknowledged that there are a handful of substance users who are repeat offenders, but the majority are overdosing for the first time.
He noted that police department detectives will go out and speak with someone who has overdosed. The purpose of the visit, he said, is to talk about services that are available to help them fight their addiction. He said the goal is not to intimidate the person, or make them feel bad about their situation.
“It’s an addiction, a disease that people are battling,” he said, “and it’s important they get community and family support.”