The Centers for Disease Control released new estimates for the numbers of overdose deaths experienced nationwide and in each state Thursday.
"With fentanyl, we know people can overdose a lot faster than they would traditionally with just heroin or a prescription pain pill", said Childs.
Controls on prescription opioids have succeeded in flattening the once-exponential growth of legal opioids, but an influx of illicit opioids has moved into the market to meet demand.
President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, but stopped short past year of declaring a state of emergency that would've given states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund.
The report, "Opioid-related Overdose Deaths in MA by Industry and Occupation, 2011-2015", was created by the DPH's Occupational Health Surveillance Program in collaboration with the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, Injury Surveillance Program, and Office of Special Analytic Projects, and was funded by the CDC.
The lag time between death and when the data are available for analysis is longer for drug overdose deaths compared with other causes of death, the CDC says.
In addition to the three New England states, overdose deaths fell in Wyoming (minus 33 percent), Utah (minus 12 percent), Oklahoma (minus 9 percent), Montana (minus 8 percent), South Dakota (minus 8 percent), Hawaii (minus 5 percent), Kansas (minus 2 percent), MS (minus 2 percent), New Mexico (minus 2 percent) and North Dakota (minus 1 percent).
There are reasons for optimism that the recent increases in overdose deaths will not continue.
The CDC cautions these figures are early estimates based on monthly death records processed by the agency. The number of deaths from cocaine mixed with opioid synthetics increased from just under 1,000 in 2014 to 4,184 in 2016. While the opioid epidemic was originally concentrated in rural, white populations, the death toll is becoming more widespread.
SC had a 10.3 percent increase. Continuing funding may help more states develop the kind of public health programs that appear to have helped in New England.
Other positive steps include increasing supply of naloxone, the opioid antidote, to first responders, while some states, including his own, are taking steps to limit opioid prescribing.
The epidemic could also intensify again.