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Rhode Island Opioid Summary

Revised February 2018

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

Rhode Island is among the top ten states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. In 2016, there were 279 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Rhode Island—a rate of 26.7 deaths per 100,000 persons and more than twice the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000. Heroin-related overdose deaths declined from 2014 to 2016 from 66 to 25 deaths. However, overdose deaths attributed to synthetic opioids and prescription opioids, increased during this period from 82 to 182 deaths and from 88 to 114 deaths, respectively.

This graph shows the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Rhode Island compared to the United States from 1999-2016. In 2016, the opioid overdose death rate was 26.7 deaths per 100,000 persons in Rhode Island, versus 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons in the United States.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2013, Rhode Island providers wrote 82.8 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (approximately 870,000 prescriptions). Since then, opioid prescriptions in the United States have declined, with a nearly 19.1 percent decline in Rhode Island from 2013 to 2015, resulting in an estimated 69.4 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (approximately 732,000 prescriptions) in 2015. In the same year, the average U.S. rate was 70 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons (IMS Health, 2016). 

This graph shows the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Rhode Island from 1999-2016. In 2016, there were 279 opioid-related overdose deaths: 182 involved synthetic opioids, 25 involved heroin, and 114 involved prescription opioids. Categories are not mutually exclusive because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

A CDC study analyzing 2013 NAS data available across 28 states estimated the national average NAS rate at 0.6 percent of live births. The incidence of NAS in Rhode Island increased from 2.8 cases per 1,000 births in 2002 to 7.3 cases per 1,000 in 2012—a more than twofold increase. (CDC, MMWR, 2014).

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, 9.1 percent (3,5941) of the 39,513 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 8.2 percent (2,6141) of cases among men and 13.2 percent (980) of cases among women were transmitted via IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2014, 955,081 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 299.5 per 100,000 persons. Of these, 18.1 percent (131,0561) of males and 22.6 percent (52,013) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2015, 64 occurred in Rhode Island, with 6.3 percent1 of new cases in males and 9.5 percent of new cases in females attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2014, an estimated 2,264 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Rhode Island—a rate of 250 infections per 100,000 persons. Of these, 22.6 percent1 of males and 30.4 percent of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2015, there were 181,871 reported cases of chronic HCV and 33,900 estimated cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Where data were available, 64.2 percent of acute cases reported IDU (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 3.5 million Americans are living with HCV, including approximately 2.7 million living with chronic infections (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Current state incidence data are not available. From 2010 to 2014, 35.1 percent of people who inject drugs had HCV (RI.gov).
  • State Prevalence: As of 2016, an estimated 16,603 to 22,660 persons (approximately 2.0 percent) were living with HCV in Rhode Island (RI.gov).

Additional Resources

NIH RePORTER FY2017 NIH-funded projects related to opioid use and use disorder in Rhode Island: 3

Notes

  1. Includes transmission to individuals with injection drug use as a risk factor.
  2. 2015 estimate after adjusting for under-ascertainment and under-reporting. Data for 2015 were unavailable for Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.

This page was last updated February 2018

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