image of barnstable county courthouse

Know what to do if an individual is at risk for an opioid overdose

In 2021, Massachusetts saw 2,290 opioid-related overdose deaths, representing a nearly 9% increase over 2020. Overdoses continue to be driven by the presence of fentanyl, 93% of opioid-related overdoses where toxicology was available, fentanyl was present. We continue to see racial disparities with noticeable increases among Hispanic and American Indian non-Hispanic males.

DID YOU KNOW? Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl is deadly and has been found in heroin, cocaine, counterfeit pills, and other street drugs. Call 911 for help with an overdose.

DID YOU KNOW? Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose can get naloxone free of charge at most naloxone distribution programs, which include any Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) program.

Alternatively, anyone in Massachusetts can use insurance or cash to purchase naloxone through a pharmacy.

Below see a summary of unintentional and undetermined intent drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2020.

See this list of Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about naloxone |

Visit a display in Boston recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, or attend one of the many events across Massachusetts

On Monday morning, August 29th, BSAS Boston Medical Center and the City of Boston will be installing a public display of 20,000 purple flags at the Boston Common in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st.  The flag will be a solemn remembrance of the 20,000 lives lost in Massachusetts to overdose between 2011-2021.

All are invited to visit the display throughout the week until it is removed on Thursday, September 1st. On August 31st, many state and municipal buildings and bridges will be lit purple as well.

Overdose Awareness Day events will be taking place all over Massachusetts this week. All events take place on August 31st unless otherwise noted.