Officials Confronted with High level of Heroin Abuse in New England

downtown area of Boston in New England

On the Boston Globe website recently, there were three articles that, taken together, illustrated the difficult situation we’re in with regard to this addictive, destructive drug.

Two of the articles dealt with the increasing number of babies born in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who were exposed to the mother’s heroin or other opioid use before being born. After birth, they go through a series of symptoms called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. The name refers to the fact that these newborns are abstinent from the drugs they were being exposed to because the supply via the mother has been withdrawn.

For weeks or even months, the babies are irritable, cry inconsolably, vomit, suffer from pain and diarrhea, and have difficulty feeding and breathing.

In Massachusetts, the rate of these births is more than three times the national average. In Rhode Island, the rate is more than twice the national average and is climbing.

The third article was from a former undercover narcotics officer. For more than a decade, he and his team pursued drug dealers and took drugs off the street. He learned that it’s impossible to arrest our way out of this drug problem. He advocated legalizing heroin as a solution, suggesting that if it were legal it could be better controlled.

Most people would probably have a hard time agreeing with making a destructive drug like heroin legal. While others can ponder the best solution in that arena, what is certain is that those who become trapped in addiction need a better chance at rehabilitation to prevent harm to themselves and, if they are pregnant, harm to their babies.

addict needing help

Every time a person is freed from illicit, addictive drugs, one more person is safe from the risk of overdose death. If that person is a woman of child-bearing age, one more baby is spared this misery.

One of these articles notes the 200 drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts since November. In Rhode Island, there have been 90 overdose deaths since the beginning of 2014.

Reducing these numbers means more emphasis on rehabilitation and effective prevention for the young. To rehabilitate someone means to return them to the state they were in before they were ill or came to harm. From our experience offering the Narconon drug rehab program, we know that rehabilitation does work in the majority of cases when the program is thorough and based on science. We have more than fifty years of success with thousands of cases.

If you know someone who needs rehabilitation, we can help.



Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.