Drug addiction in Boston, MA has reached epidemic levels. In 2009, a special state commission, known formally as the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission released a report which states that the Commonwealth is in the midst of a “serious and dangerous epidemic.” The report compared the number of US servicemen and women from Massachusetts killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and the number overdosing on one or both drugs between the years of 2002 and 2007. During these years, 78 service people lost their lives while 3,265 died from drug-related causes.
Eastern Massachusetts, including Boston, had the highest rate of emergency room visits involving illicit drugs than any metropolitan region in the United States. The region also ranked first in emergency room visits involving heroin use. On the South Shore, one person dies of an overdose every eight days. In Worcester, lifetime heroin use is twice the state and national average. Lawmakers and health officials are shocked at the increase in drug addiction in Boston, MA.
The Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission, made up of state legislators and health experts, made a series of recommendations, from improving ways to discourage doctor-shopping (going to multiple doctors to get prescriptions) to investing in recovery programs, including sober schools like Northshore Recovery High School. All of these measures are aimed at lowering death from drug addiction in Boston, MA.
Unfortunately, drug addiction in Boston, MA doesn’t get the same type of public attention as other, less highly stigmatized health problems like the flu epidemic. Many people still view addiction as a choice and feel that drug addicts “did this to themselves.”
The spike in heroin use in the region has a lot to do with economics. Those that became addicted to prescription medication find heroin a much cheaper alternative. It has created a whole new generation of drug addicts. Drug addiction in Boston, MA is no longer regulated to the inner cities. Suburban kids who get hooked on supposedly “safe” prescription pills eventually turn to heroin when they can’t afford or can’t get their drug of choice. Suburban addiction is fueling crime in affluent neighborhoods.
Dangerously high purity levels of heroin are contributing to the drug addiction in Boston, MA as well. The higher the purity, the more addiction and the more overdoses. In 2007, state health officials launched a 12-city pilot program that focused on the use of Narcan. Narcan can block the effects of opiates, bringing back an overdose victim from the brink of death. Members of the fire and police department now carry the inhalant form of Narcan, which has caused a decrease in emergency room transports of overdose victims.
Beverly’s Northshore Recovery High School saw an increase in enrollment from 12 students in 2006 to more than 70 in 2011. More addicts are seeking treatment for drug addiction in Boston, MA at traditional treatment centers as well. Community involvement, however, is still seen by many addiction experts as crucial to curbing drug addiction in Boston, MA.