More than one in four Massachusetts residents have lost a loved one or an acquaintance to a fatal opioid overdose, and a majority know at least one opioid addict, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts survey to be released Tuesday.
The survey, first obtained by the Boston Globe, found that seven in ten Massachusetts residents see the opioid crisis as a “very serious problem” — a figure that far outweighed the number of respondents concerned about taxes or health-care costs.
Despite the pervasiveness of the epidemic across socioeconomic lines and the role of painkiller over-prescription, the vast majority of respondents said addicts themselves were at least partially to blame, and two thirds agreed that a lack of motivation was a significant obstacle to recovery.
While the opioid epidemic has ravaged vast swaths of the country, the situation in the Bay State is particularly bleak. The fatal-overdose rate was more than double the national average in 2014, according to the official Massachusetts opioid-epidemic website. However, there is some evidence the problem may be abating slightly; an estimated 167 fewer Massachusetts residents died of opioid overdoses in the first nine months of 2017 than in the same period the previous year, according to the most recent state report, released last August.
“This new report shows some trend lines that are moving in the right direction…but there are still too many people dying from overdoses,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement that accompanied the report’s release.