Do you need help from Massachusetts drug rehab? Massachusetts has a population of over 6,400,000 million people. The national crime rating has ranked this state as 18 in the nation. Heroin and cocaine are the primary drugs that are abused in the state of Massachusetts. Dominican and Colombian traffickers continue to dominate the distribution of this drug throughout the state. A “Gateway Drug” to use heroin is the extremely popular Oxycontin. This drug continues to be readily available to the population to the state of Massachusetts. Oxycontin has been brought in from many areas such as Florida, Nevada, Arizona so Massachusetts can distribute it.
With well organized doctor shipping rings and altered or forged prescriptions, traffickers continue to get Oxycontin along with getting it through the express mail shipments. Cocaine is also a main drug that is available throughout the state of Massachusetts. These drugs have reports coming into the state in multi-kilograms via tractor trailers, commercial transit and vehicles that have hidden compartments. Also by mail sources, livery services, and commercial transit. Street gang members and African-Americans violators continue to dominate the drug distribution in Massachusetts. Boston city limits still has the wide spread and abuse of crack cocaine.
Massachusetts certainly doesn’t have the highest rates of drug abuse in the country, but it also does not have the lowest. The state is continuing to battle drug abuse and addiction, and while it has made some gains in recent years in bringing down the number of drug users, deaths and injuries from drug use remains a serious issue. Addiction remains high, as well, and while some people are getting the treatment they need, others are floundering as they deal with homelessness, health problems and criminal behavior.
By better understanding the issues that are plaguing Massachusetts, citizens and policy makers can learn how to tackle the problem.
Many popular drugs have made the news spotlight recently, such as “Molly,” the slang name for the club drug MDMA, and Adderall, the ADHD medication that students without the condition take to fuel all-night study sessions. While these drugs are certainly in circulation in Massachusetts, they are not the most commonly taken drugs.
The most popular drugs are the “classic” drugs that have been in use for many years across the country:
Heroin is, by far, the most popular drug in the state, according to drug use surveys and addiction treatment admissions information.
The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services says that of all treatment admissions for 2012 in Massachusetts,
- 43.1 percent (43,837) were for heroin abuse
- 4.2 percent (4,274) were for crack or cocaine
- 3.4 percent (3,462) were for marijuana
- 13.8 percent (13,995) were for other drugs
Another 35.5 percent (36,051) were for alcohol.
Overall, drug use remains high. A White House drug control update for Massachusetts says that the state was among the top 10 states for drug use in 2007-2008 in several categories. That year, 9 percent of people reported using some kind of illicit drugs within the past month, compared to an 8 percent national average.
Drug use is also a problem among teenagers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health reports that in 2011, 43 percent of high school students reported using marijuana one or more times in their life. The national average was 40 percent. Six percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 reported non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in the 12 months prior to the survey.
By far, the most problematic substances are alcohol and tobacco. They continue to be the most abused substances across almost all age groups and ethnicities, and both are completely legal. Yet both can pose a profound threat to personal health and even endanger the lives of others — either through second-hand smoke or through accidents caused by drunk driving.
The problem of drug addiction is complex, and it affects everyone — even those who are not using.
Massachusetts hasn’t seen too many trends in drug use, though some new drugs have been introduced in recent years.
Heroin and cocaine continue to be the most popular drugs in Massachusetts, so no real “trends” have developed concerning those drugs. They both continue to be readily available and in demand. Both are imported through local interstates and commercial transport. New York is the primary source point for both.
Heroin has traditionally been imported from Columbia and the Dominican Republic, and many gangs from those countries have grown their presence in the state. Seizures have increased at the border and other entry points, such as ports in Miami. Therefore, more traffickers have turned to interstate transportation for importing. Cocaine is also imported from Florida and Puerto Rico by way of suppliers from Columbia and the Dominican Republic.
Prescription medications are gaining in popularity as substitutions for heroin. Oxycontin, oxycodone and fentanyl are popular choices. Other drugs in the class include dilaudid, methadone, darvocet, vicodin, percocet and demerol. These are drugs that simulate the effects of heroin, and they can be taken alone or taken in combination with each other or with other substances.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of narcotics abuse in the country, which includes prescription medications. However, law enforcement have begun to increase measures to curb prescription drug use, making them less available and inadvertently sending the rates of heroin use even higher.
Prescription drugs can also be much more expensive than heroin. For example, the Massachusetts Technical Assistance Partnership for Prevention says that Oxycodone can sell for $1 per milligram, or $80 for a typical pill of 80 mg. Similarly, the same dose of Oxycontin can sell for $60 to $80. Meanwhile, multiple doses of heroin can be obtained for about $45 to $60, and the drug is much more potent. That means that more people are using it, and more people are at risk for fatal overdoses and other drug injuries.
The use of methamphetamines and club drugs like MDMA and ecstasy have risen in popularity in conjunction with opiates. The drugs are combined to achieve similar effects of heroin and cocaine when users are trying to evade detection for buying those drugs or when availability is scarce. Methamphetamines and MDMA are often smuggled into the state through mail deliveries from California, Europe and Canada.
Law enforcement officials are aware of the supply chain that is bringing drugs into the state and are cracking down on these practices, but they can only do so much. New ways of importing the drugs are created when old routes are shut down or intercepted.
Though drug use continues to be a big problem in Massachusetts, those who are addicted are not necessarily getting the help they need. The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services says that data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2009 shows that 9.6 percent of the total population in Massachusetts ages 12 and older had either a drug addiction or were abusing drugs or alcohol. The problem was much worse for young adults ages 18 to 25: 23.4 percent were reported to be either addicted to drugs or were abusing drugs or alcohol. The overwhelming majority — 61 percent, or 62,021 — were between the ages of 21 and 39. The average age was 34.7. Many had children: 20.1 percent (20,463) had children younger than six, while another 24.3 percent (24,760) had children between 6 and 18.
In 2012, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services says that 105,189 people were admitted to substance abuse treatment services in Massachusetts, and that only 2,298 of those admissions were by people under 18.
The overwhelming majority of admissions were for men. In 2012, 68.8 percent (69,904) substance abuse treatment admissions were for men. Meanwhile, 31.2 percent (31,680) were for women. Interestingly, 0.03 percent (35) were for transgender individuals. No information was provided about how their transgender status may or may not have influenced their substance abuse or addiction.
Racially, the overwhelming majority of substance abuse treatment admissions were for white people. In 2012, 81.2 percent (81,850) admissions were white, 7.1 percent (7,151) were black, 2.5 percent (2,567) were multi-racial, and 9.2 percent (9,299) identified as another race, such as Native American. Also, 11.1 percent (11,321) identified as Hispanic. Hispanic heritage can overlap with other racial identities, which is why the percentages do not add up to 100 percent.
Not surprisingly, many who were admitted for drug and alcohol addiction were also struggling with unemployment, mental health issues and other problem. In 2012, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services says that 80.1 percent (81,368) of those admitted for substance abuse treatment were unemployed, 19.3 percent (18,839) were homeless and 42.5 percent (43,133) had been treated for mental health issues.
As previously mentioned, the most common drugs being used were heroin and cocaine, and 42 percent (42,670) admissions reported injecting drugs in the previous year, which indicates a much larger public health issue since injections can lead to the spread of disease, including HIV. Many people admitted for treatment were abusing multiple drugs. In 2012, 56.6 percent (56,610) reported using alcohol in the previous year, 47.7 percent (47,762) reported using heroin, 21.8 percent (22,189) reported using crack or cocaine, 25.3 percent (23,286) reported using marijuana, 23.7 percent reported using opiates such as Hydrocodone or Vicodin, 17.9 percent (18,249) reported using tranquilizers, and 4.7 percent (4,749) reported using other drugs.
Of course, it is impossible to say just how many more people are struggling with drug addiction or substance abuse who are not seeking treatment. The numbers we have available are based on treatment admissions or surveys, but those numbers are likely only a small portion of the people out there struggling silently in the shadows. For many, addiction is a shameful and isolating disease, and most do not seek help, nor do they admit the need to do so.
Drug Injuries and Fatalities
Most people understand that using drugs can be dangerous. However, most people do not understand the full extent of just how dangerous those drugs can be. The risks go far beyond simple overdose and can include the transmission of deadly diseases like HIV and hepatitis, serious health problems as a result of drug use, injuries from accidents caused by making poor decisions while under the influence of drugs, and violence from drug-related crimes.
The victims of drug abuse are not just those who are using the drugs. Family members can contract illnesses from those who are using drugs. Innocent bystanders can get in the line of fire of drug-related crimes. Other people can be involved in car accidents caused by people under the influence of drugs. Of course, those physical injuries don’t even account for the emotional and mental injuries that the family members of drug addicts can suffer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2010 marked the 11th straight year of increases in fatal overdoses across the country, and that 60 percent (22,134) of those were attributed to prescription medications — of which Oxycontin and Vicodin were the most problematic, accounting for three out of four prescription drug overdoses.
Massachusetts continues to have one of the highest rates of opiate use, including Oxycontin and Vicodin. The CDC says that from 1997 to 2007, the rate of opioid-related hospital discharges for in-patient stays increased 84.6 percent. The CDC notes that the non-medical use of opiates is often a gateway to heroin use.
The Trust for America’s Health says that Massachusetts has the 32nd highest rate of fatalities from drug overdoses in the country, and that the majority of those are from prescription drug use.
The CDC says that Massachusetts has 1,003 drug-related deaths in 2007, which exceed the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents and shootings. The state’s death rate from drugs (15.6 per 100,000 people) also exceeded the national average for that year (12.7).
One step the legislature has taken to curb fatalities from drug overdoses is passing the so-called “Good Samaritan Law,” which protects people from prosecution for drug possession if they call 911 to report a drug overdose. They can still be prosecuted for any outstanding warrants they may have or for trafficking in drugs.
However, legislators note that many more steps need to be taken, including increasing drug education.
Drugs and Crime
One highlight in the report on drug addiction in Massachusetts is that overall violent crime has decreased in the last two decades. Overall, violent crime decreased 12 percent between 1988 and 2012, according to the state Office of Public Safety and Security.
The Massachusetts Bar Association says that 20 percent of those incarcerated in the state committed a drug-related crime, and that 20 percent committed a property-related crime, such as burglary, to support their drug habit.
However, the Massachusetts Bar Association also notes that the majority of prisoners incarcerated on drug-related charges are being held for possession of drugs, not trafficking or engaging in violent activity.
That does not mean that drug-related violence is not a problem in the state. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified more than 175 active gangs in the state, including notorious gangs Trinitarios and Zoe Pound.
Business Insider reported in 2011 that the city of Springfield is the 12th most dangerous city in America, thanks to its gang activity, much of which revolves around drug trade. Increased police patrols and other efforts in the area brought down aggravated assaults 50 percent between 2009 and 2010, burglaries 55 percent, larcenies 76 percent, stolen cars 47 percent, and destruction of property 50 percent. However, the number of simple assaults rose 21 percent and assault with a dangerous weapon rose 17 percent, showing that there is clearly more work to do.
Several cities, including Lowell, Taunton, and Haverhill, have recently received grants to help fight gang activity, much of which is predicated on drug trafficking.
Drug Treatment and Education
Fighting drug abuse and addiction is about much more than increasing criminal punishments for drug use. The Massachusetts Bar Association says that there has been a large increase in the number of drug-related arrests, but that these have had very little impact on drug use or trade. For example, the Bar notes that purity level of heroin increased from 6 percent to 37 percent from 1987 to 1997 and decreased in price, making it both more potent and more available. That means that more people were using, and more people were prone to addiction and to fatal overdose.
The Bar recommends a shift in focus from punishing drug use to education and awareness to prevent the growing incidence of drug use and treatment for those who are addicted. By shifting to a treatment model instead of punishment, the Bar believes that the state can address the root of the problem and help those who are in the grips of addiction reclaim their lives and become productive members of society once again.
Of course, such a change in policy would require funding, which may not be possible in the cash-strapped state. Individual treatment programs are available, as well, with some offering tuition assistance for those of low means and some government programs available to help.
Family and friends can also play an important role in helping drug addicts get the treatment they need. Not only can they provide the financial support needed to pay for the treatment, but they can also offer emotional support through what will be a challenging time for all involved.
Drug addiction is a complex program, and it require understanding all the elements that influence it in order to find a solution. Many political, economic, social and psychological issues contribute to the spread of drug addiction. Making policy changes, increasing education, and making treatment more available can help lower the incidence of drug addiction.
A Massachusetts Drug Rehab Will Help
Drug rehab facilities are dedicated to helping their patients become drug or alcohol free and to lead a drug or alcohol free life even after their treatment. Drug rehab also tries to help the family of the addict. The staff tries to help the family to understand the conditions of the addiction and give the family helpful information on how to help keep the addict drug or alcohol free.