Massachusetts Drug Addiction and Treatment

Boston skyline from the harbor

Heroin Addiction in Massachusetts

The addiction struggle in Massachusetts has long centered around heroin abuse. The state’s emergency rooms see four times the number of cases featuring heroin, compared to the rest of the country. Heroin overdoses became so severe in some neighborhoods like Charlestown, a small district in northern Boston, that the communities banded together to drive out dealers and pump funds into treatment for the addicts. This small district alone was seeing forty overdoses a year between 2003 and 2006. Thirteen people died. As the opioid epidemic swept the country in recent years, the statistics of opioid-related deaths jumped to 1933 in 2016.  

Across the state, therefore, heroin is the most prominent threat. But unlike years past, many citizens take a new path to heroin addiction.

Like many other parts of the country, prescription drug abuse has been rising in Massachusetts. Many of the controlled prescription drugs that are commonly abused are opioids, synthetics or opium derivatives that give highs similar to heroin: OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Lortab, morphine, codeine, methadone, and others. When money gets tight, those in Massachusetts who get addicted to these drugs may turn to heroin as it is cheaper and often more available.

In addition to controlled prescription drugs and heroin, cocaine (sometimes converted into crack cocaine) and marijuana are also statewide threats.

Long-Established Patterns of Drug Trafficking to the Northeast

city street in New York

New York City is one of the primary drug distribution centers in the country. The old French Connection that brought drugs over from Marseilles, France, delivered those drugs to New York City in the 1960s and for part of the next decade. Boston is just a short hop up the Interstate to the North. The French Connection is no longer the channel for heroin - now it mostly comes up from South America. A variety of ethnic drug trafficking organizations participate, including Colombians, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Jamaicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and others.

Those Massachusetts cities with the largest ethnic populations have become focal points for drug distribution: Lowell, Lawrence, Roxbury, Fall River, Lynn, and Springfield. From there, gang members or outlaw motorcycle gangs are often the retailers. Gang members use violence and intimidation to maintain or expand their territories, leading to high crime rates in the areas where they operate.

fishing boat in Gloucester

But any transport channel can be and is used to get drugs into the area. Some enterprising dealers bypass the major smuggling routes and just have family members back home ship them drugs via the postal service or package delivery service. Customs officials in seaports find illicit cargo commingled with regular commercial cargo. A member of the Coast Guard reported seizing tuna stuffed with cocaine from fishing boats in the area. Couriers bring drugs concealed on or in their bodies through Logan International Airport. In addition, the recent establishment of major drug distribution centers in Atlanta and Raleigh facilitate the distribution of drugs in Massachusetts.

Addiction and Treatment in Massachusetts

While more people struggle with heroin than other drugs in Massachusetts, the state also has high numbers of people struggling with cocaine and marijuana abuse. In addition to high numbers of Emergency Room cases suffering from problems with heroin, the numbers of people visiting the ERs due to problems with cocaine and marijuana are double what’s seen in the rest of the country.

Treatment for heroin addiction is often a frustrating process for those suffering. Heroin addicts are much more likely to report prior addiction treatment efforts, when they are being admitted to drug rehabilitation—as many as five or even more prior efforts. Even compared to all the other opiates and opioids, heroin addicts are more likely to be returning to rehabilitation treatment than going for the first time.

More effective rehab centers for outpatient or residential treatment are needed to help the residents of the state. In 2007, nearly 600,000 residents admitted to alcoholism or drug addiction. And the majority of these people did not find a drug treatment center that could help them. One hundred forty thousand people said they did not receive treatment for drug addiction and nearly half a million people needed alcohol rehab and didn’t find it. Only when substance abuse treatment centers are available to more citizens of Massachusetts who need drug rehab can we start saving the lives that are being lost to overdoses and related causes.

To those who wish to break the pattern of drug use or drinking that is destroying their lives, Narconon provides a unique drug recovery program that works.

At Narconon, addicts can find the solution they need to drug or alcohol addiction. A multi-phase holistic substance abuse treatment program takes those who are addicted through a thorough detoxification and reorientation exercises, and then into a skills training regimen that enables people to leave the past behind and look forward to a bright new future. Graduates ordinarily restore family relationships, renew personal value systems and experience the relief of restored personal integrity. It all adds up to a new life without drugs.

Contact Narconon for more information on the center nearest you.

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