One person is dead and four others are recovering from what investigators suspect were five separate opioid overdoses that occurred during a single night in Gloucester, a police spokesman said Saturday.
The state Office of Chief Medical Examiner is working to determine a cause of death for the person who died overnight, said police spokesman John Guilfoil, but the department is investigating each case as possible overdoses.
“There is certainly enough preliminary evidence, enough cause to believe these are suspected overdoses,” said Guilfoil.
He said police have not publicly identified the person who died, pending notification of that person’s next of kin.
Police have not released information about the other four people suspected of suffering an overdose, other than to confirm they were treated by EMTs and are now recovering, said Guilfoil.
Each of the five cases were reported to police as separate medical incidents in the late evening and early morning, said Guilfoil.
Guilfoil said he did not know if any of the people treated in the suspected overdose cases were hospitalized.
He did not know if any of them were treated with Narcan, a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Guilfoil said the Gloucester police are concerned that fentanyl or another deadly opioid is being sold, and the department is warning the community about the danger.
Any suspected overdose should be reported to first responders by calling 911, said Guilfoil.
From 2012 to 2016, 33 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Gloucester, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. That includes nine deaths reported by the agency last year.
Across Massachusetts, an estimated 2,107 people suffered opioid-related deaths in 2016, state public health officials reported. That’s about a 17 percent increase over the estimated 1,799 opioid-related deaths in 2015, according to the health department.
Gloucester police remains home to a program launched by then-police chief Leonard Campanello that allows anyone suffering from drug addiction to come to the department and seek help, said Guilfoil.
That program, launched in Gloucester in 2015, was replicated by hundreds of police departments across the country.
“People who wish to seek treatment and recovery can come to the police department,” said Guilfoil.John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com. Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org