Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the country. It has a storied past and, in many ways, is a thriving area of the United States. However, the heroin problem in Massachusetts has been just as bad as other places around the country as a result of the opioid crisis. Recent data put Massachusetts in the top ten states nationwide for overdose deaths related to opioids, a category of drug that includes heroin. The Massachusetts drug problem is serious and won’t go away without dedicated efforts from multiple sectors. The good news is that numerous leaders across the state are stepping up to fight the heroin epidemic in Massachusetts.
Defining the Massachusetts Drug Problem
Investigative reporting found as many as one-quarter of the state’s population has been directly impacted by the opioid crisis in recent years. Survey data showed that the vast majority of residents indicated that they felt the heroin problem in Massachusetts is one of the most serious things currently faced by the state.
Thousands of Massachusetts residents fall victim to opioid overdose every year. More often than not, these overdoses involve fentanyl. Fentanyl is the most powerful opioid on the market and only exacerbates the heroin problem in Massachusetts. Fentanyl is many times more potent than heroin and is often used to cut less powerful drugs to make them go farther. Combining drugs in their powder forms like fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine is a deadly cocktail. People often do not know what all is in the drug they are taking.
Recent data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health indicated that over half of the admissions to state-sponsored addiction treatment services cited heroin as the drug in question. Despite these alarming statistics related to the heroin epidemic in Massachusetts, the drug problem seems to be improving. Overdose deaths have fallen slightly in recent years statewide though that downward trend does not hold true for every county.
Fighting the Massachusetts Drug Problem
One primary method for fighting the Massachusetts drug problem is through legislation. National data identifies the root of nearly 80% of heroin abuse and addiction cases as prescription painkillers. Greater control over the prescription and use of these painkillers could prevent numerous people from acquiring a tolerance and dependence that ultimately drives them toward harder drugs.
So what is tangibly being done at the state and legislative levels? A few of the priorities that leaders have put in motion to combat the heroin epidemic in Massachusetts include:
- Hosting a prescription monitoring program
- Passing legislation related to substance use treatment and prevention that enacts a seven-day limit on new opioid prescriptions, among other interventions
- Providing more prescription drop box locations
- Passing a good samaritan law that protects people who report an overdose
- Forming the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Coalition
Another tactic similar to those taken in other geographies is to emphasize the dispensation and availability of naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid agonist, meaning it can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It is a life-saving intervention. In just the first year after many of these interventions took hold, opioid prescriptions fell by nearly 25% compared to the national decrease of 13% in 2016.
Mandated Drug Treatment Programs in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is also one of 37 states where someone involved in the justice system can be involuntarily committed based on concerns about addiction or drug abuse. This program provides treatment for up to 90 days in a minimum-security facility. Combined with that is Massachusetts’s emphasis on specific drug courts that specialize in helping people struggling with addiction get connected to treatment rather than being sent to prison. Completing a mandated drug treatment program often results in charges being dropped or a sentence reduction.
Addressing the Heroin Problem in Massachusetts
Rockland Recovery is proud to play a role in addressing the heroin problem in Massachusetts. We offer addiction treatment services that are customized to each individual’s needs. The opioid crisis need not continue ravaging our state indefinitely. Providers like Rockland Recovery, alongside the incredible statewide efforts, are paving a path toward a healthier Massachusetts.
Contact us at 855.732.4842 to connect to heroin addiction treatment services.