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Opioid deaths in Norfolk County show big rise

The number of people who have died from opioid overdoses in Norfolk County has already hit 151 this year, more than double the total from just two years ago and despite widespread availability of Narcan, Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said Wednesday.

According to Morrissey, 63 people died from opioid overdoses in 2013 and the number increased to 94 in 2014 . Morrissey emphasized his total reflects only those instances in Norfolk County where State Police troopers assigned to his office are sent to investigate an unattended death scene.

The number of deaths is likely higher when adding people who died in a hospital or under a doctor's care, he said.

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Morrissey disclosed the death toll while overseeing training in the use of Narcan for 80 school nurses and athletic trainers from 30 school districts in Norfolk County.

Morrissey offered the experience of first responders in Holbrook, a bedroom community of some 11,000 people, as an example. So far, first responders have used Narcan to resuscitate 80 people while four have died.

"The numbers are growing in spite of all the good work we are doing. . . . And on the one hand, it gets kind of discouraging,'' Morrissey said of the increase in the number of fatal overdoses.

Morrissey said that one person a week is killed in car crashes on average in Norfolk County while the death toll from opioid overdoses averages three people a week.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.