- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island saw an increase in accidental drug overdoses in the first quarter of 2020 compared to previous years, according to data from the state Health Department.

The agency released a statement estimating that between 93 and 95 people died of an overdose, a 22% increase from 2019. In 2019, 308 people died from accidental overdoses.

The suspected factors that led to the increase include carfentanil — a synthetic opioid more deadly than fentanyl — and stress induced from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kathryn Power, head of the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals said the pandemic has created new challenges for those struggling with substance abuse by limiting their access to resources and support.

Rhode Island’s annual fatal drug overdoses had been decreasing since 2016 when 336 people died from accidental overdoses, according to the Health Department.

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