PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's health department is reporting an increase in accidental overdose deaths associated with the use of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that's been implicated in a string of fatal overdoses in the Northeast.

There were 27 overdose deaths in the state in January, up from 18 in January 2013 and 15 each in January 2012 and 2011. A spokesman says fentanyl has turned up in 15 of the 23 cases screened.

Craig Stenning, head of the state agency overseeing behavioral health, says some users are seeking out a heroin-fentanyl mix because it produces a quicker, more potent high.

His department issued emergency regulations this week to address the increase in overdose deaths. They call for wider training on overdose treatment, including administration of a drug used to reverse heroin overdoses.


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