PLYMOUTH — Plymouth County Outreach and the police chiefs of Plymouth County are issuing an alert today following a spike in drug overdoses throughout the county during the first 19 days of December.
From Dec. 1 to 19, Plymouth County Outreach (PCO) has documented 13 fatal overdoses throughout the county, which is more fatal overdoses than any other month this year.
PCO and its partners want the public, especially individuals at risk for overdose and their families and friends, to be aware of the increased risk of an overdose and what action they can take. The holidays are a difficult time for many, and PCO wants community members to know that they are not alone.
Anyone using any substance purchased off the street is at risk of an overdose. It is suspected that Fentanyl is being mixed with other non-opioid substances such as cocaine and street pills marked as Xanax. There has also been growing concern of the presence of an animal tranquilizer, xylazine, being found in the illicit drug supply. Although it’s being used as an additive to opioids, xylazine is not an opioid and will not respond to Narcan.
Recognizing the signs of an overdose:
- Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
- Face very pale
- Cool, clammy skin
- Choking sounds or a gurgling noise (death rattle)
- Pulse (heartbeat) is slow erratic or has stopped
- Blue/gray skin tinge – usually lips and fingers show first, sometimes in tips of ears
- Loss of consciousness-passing out
- Body becomes very limp
Life-saving measures to reverse an overdose:
Naloxone, known as Narcan, is a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose. Narcan saved lives 94% of the time when administered in Plymouth County last year.
Narcan is readily available throughout the county free of cost, no questions asked, including at these locations:
- By calling Plymouth County Outreach, 774-434-5072, or reaching out through the website’s connect page: plymouthcountyoutreach.org/connect
- Bamsi Brockton Cope Center, 74 Pleasant St., Brockton; 508-583-3405
- Bamsi Plymouth Cope Center, 385 Court St., Plymouth, basement suite; 508-942-0679
- PCO Hope, 385 Court St., Plymouth; 774-283-4763
- Manet Community Health Center, 180 George Washington Boulevard, Hull; 781-925-4550
- Local pharmacies have an open/standing prescription for everyone. This means you can go to your pharmacy to ask for Narcan. The cost will be whatever your insurance co-pay is.
Treatment, support and hope:
Resources are available throughout the county and region. Learn more at plymouthcountyoutreach.org/partners. Additionally, you can contact:
- Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at 800-327-5050 or helplinema.org
- If you or a loved one is at-risk of an overdose and looking to access treatment, please reach out to your local Plymouth County Police Department and ask to speak with a Plymouth County Outreach Officer, contact PCO through its website at plymouthcountyoutreach.org/connect, or call 774-434-5072.
9-1-1. Make the Call. Save a Life:
Massachusetts passed the Good Samaritan Law in 2007, which encourages someone who witnesses an overdose to seek help by protecting the caller and the person who overdosed from arrest and prosecution for drug possession. The goal of the law is to protect people so they are not afraid to involve emergency services as soon as possible.
Good Samaritan Law PSAs created by local recovery coaches are available to watch under ‘public service announcements’ here: Video Gallery – Plymouth County Outreach.
The Plymouth County Police Chiefs, District Attorney and Sheriff have also created a PCO Good Samaritan Law PSA. Click here to view the video: Plymouth County Chiefs Discuss Massachusetts Good Samaritan Law.
Harm reduction saves lives:
While PCO and its police chiefs strongly encourage people to seek treatment, addiction is a disease and it is important to know ways to reduce the chance of death:
- Don’t use alone. If you must use alone call the Never Use Alone hotline, available 24/7 at 1-800-972-0590
- Use with someone else present and don’t use at the same time. This way, if one of you overdoses, the other can call 911 and administer Narcan
- Test your substances with fentanyl test strips
- Have access to Narcan
- Make sure your social networks have Narcan
- Mixing substances can put you at increased risk of overdose
- Test a small amount first
- Use new supplies every time
- Know that using via inhalation or smoking doesn’t protect you from overdose
- Know that periods of abstinence followed by use are quite dangerous in relation to fatal overdoses. Common examples are hospitalizations, incarceration, or periods of abstinence-based treatment.
- Heroin use equals fentanyl use in Massachusetts
- Canary cellphone app: Canary is an overdose prevention app that monitors for a user’s inactivity after activation. In the event a user stops moving and fails to respond to prompts by Canary, the app issues an alert to others.
For more information on harm reduction strategies, visit Harm Reduction – Plymouth County Outreach.
About Plymouth County Outreach:
Plymouth County Outreach is a multi-faceted collaboration of the 27 municipal police departments in Plymouth County, as well as Bridgewater State University Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office & Sheriff’s Department working together with Recovery Coaches and community organizations and coalitions to make treatment, resources, and harm reduction tools more accessible to those living with substance misuse disorder and their loved ones. Our goal is to provide compassionate, judgment-free support while reducing overdose fatalities.
PCO’s Executive Director, Vicky Butler, continues to keep the public updated through the PCO’s social media accounts: Facebook @plymouthcountyoutreach, Twitter @countyoutreach, Instagram @plymouthcountyoutreach, and on its website plymouthcountyoutreach.org.
Plymouth County Outreach is a collaborative of police departments throughout Plymouth County led by the following chiefs: Abington Chief David Del Papa, Bridgewater Chief Christopher Delmonte, Bridgewater State University Chief David Tillinghast, Brockton Chief Brenda Perez, Carver Chief Marc Duphily, Duxbury Chief Stephen McDonald, East Bridgewater Chief Paul O’Brien, Halifax Chief Joao Chaves, Hanover Chief Timothy Kane, Hanson Chief Michael Miksch, Hingham Chief David Jones, Hull Chief John Dunn, Kingston Chief Maurice Splaine, Lakeville Chief Matthew Perkins, Marion Chief Richard Nighelli, Marshfield Chief Phillip Tavares, Mattapoisett Chief Jason King, Middleboro Chief Joseph Perkins, Norwell Chief Edward Lee, Pembroke Chief Richard MacDonald, Plymouth Chief Dana Flynn, Plympton Chief Matthew Ahl, Rochester Chief Robert Small, Rockland Chief Nicholas Zeoli, Scituate Chief Mark Thompson, Wareham Chief Walter Correia, West Bridgewater Chief Victor Flaherty, and Whitman Chief Timothy Hanlon.