Public Health Alert: Rhode Island Overdose Action Area Response (ROAAR)Providence

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals issue this ROAAR Alert due to increased non-fatal opioid overdose activity in Providence.

From May 28 to June 3, 2023, Providence exceeded its weekly, pre-established opioid overdose threshold.

  • There were 24 reports of individuals receiving care from an emergency department (ED) for a suspected opioid overdose. The weekly threshold is 22 ED visits.

During the same timeframe, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Exeter, Richmond, and Hopkinton (Region 9) reached its weekly, pre-established overdose threshold for emergency medical services (EMS) runs due to suspected opioid overdoses.

Harm reduction can look like using fentanyl test strips, carrying naloxone, using with others, and using safer smoking supplies, sterile syringes, new works, and other harm reduction tools. If you or someone you know uses drugs, there are ways to be safer and reduce overdose risk.Visit to learn more about safer drug use practices.



The local drug supply is always changing. Many people who overdosed did not know that their drugs, like cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, or non-prescribed pills, could also be mixed with fentanyl and/or xylazine.If you or someone you know uses drugs, there are ways to be safer and reduce overdose risk:  – Don’t use alone and have someone with you when using drugs  – Test your drugs using fentanyl test strips  – Keep naloxone (Narcan®) on hand  – Start with a small dose and go slowly


Xylazine (pronounced zai·luh·zeenis a powerful sedative found in the Rhode Island drug supply. Xylazine isn’t an opioid but it can still impact an overdose. It is a long-acting medication used as a veterinary tranquilizer. It is not approved for human use. It has been found in the local drug supply in Rhode Island in combination with fentanyl.Drugs that have xylazine in them very often have fentanyl, too. Xylazine can cause severe respiratory depression, especially when mixed with fentanyl. If you become sedated and don’t move for a long time, you could get injuries related to poor circulation. Xylazine exposure can also cause severe and persistent wounds that can lead to infection if they aren’t treated.



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