Drug abuse in the US is still a huge concern, and its trends are getting worse yearly. This social problem is a big concern to all states including Massachusetts.
Massachusetts ranked ninth on the list of the worst drug problem states in the US. This can be mostly due to a high level of overdose deaths per capita, inadequate access to treatment, and a high percentage of adult drug users.
Drug problems in the state of Massachusetts can be caused by the easy accessibility of drugs in the region and the extensive dealings of these illegal drugs. People, young and old, have easy access to drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and fentanyl.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, from 2015 to 2016, there was a 24% rise in confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths. Although the number of confirmed overdose deaths had decreased this year, the number of estimated opioid-related casualties have increased. 932 confirmed deaths were recorded from January to September of 2017. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health stated that there’d be around 491 to 582 estimated deaths in additional.
Overdose Death Trends in Massachusetts
From 2000 to 2016, there were about 14,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in the region. More than 2,500 of these deaths were reported from Middlesex County. This drug problem has affected the entire state of Massachusetts, but the situation wasn’t as bad as those of other states in the US. Other counties from Massachusetts that have more than 1,000 deaths caused by opioid overdose were Bristol, Essex, Suffolk, and Worcester.
Wide-scale Drug-Dealing Problem in the State of Massachusetts
Drug abuse problems in Massachusetts varies depending on a user’s needs. In this state, there’s an extremely high demand for opioids and heroin. Drug dealers and cartels have extensive networks that transport these prohibited drugs into the state. Means of transportation are either by land or air. Suppliers usually come from other countries and neighboring states.
The demand for illegal drugs such as heroin and fentanyl has been increasing in the state of Massachusetts. Some drug dealers would even try to produce drugs like fentanyl by themselves if difficulties in accessing these illicit drugs occur.
During the first quarter of 2017, opioid-related deaths were high. 447 overdose deaths from opioids were reported during this period. But statistics showed that the number of deaths was lower than the last year. This has proved Massachusetts’ fruitful efforts in fighting the opioid epidemic.
Opioid deaths continued to rise yearly. However, the increase in overdose deaths has been slow in the past few months. There had been an overwhelming 40% rise in opioid-related deaths from the prior year. 2015 had a 31% over 2014. Then in 2016, opioid-related deaths rose about 16% from its previous year.
According to the report of the state Department of Public Health, opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts decreased by 10% compared to the same period of 2016.
The drop in the number of deaths due to opioid overdose this year can be considered good news. But this decline can be attributed to the rising popularity of its deadly form – fentanyl. 81% of opioid-related overdose deaths reported this drug’s presence in the toxicology screens.
Fentanyl has recently become popular among drug users. It’s a synthetic opioid that can be hundred times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl transported anywhere in the country are sometimes disguised as prescription pills like oxycodone and Xanax.
Some drug dealers and users have started adding fentanyl in their heroin. It has been known that it only needs a small amount of fentanyl to increase its potency dramatically. A deadly dose of fentanyl is only a tiny fraction of the size of heroin’s fatal dose.
Efforts to Stop Deaths Caused by Fentanyl
Drug users and dealers have been trying to produce fentanyl by themselves due to the increasing demand for this drug. This has posed a threat to communities in Massachusetts. Drug abuse advocates have made efforts to solve this problem. They actually developed an easy testing system that has been quite prevented efficiently deaths caused by fentanyl overdose.
The testing system involves the use of testing strips. Drug users can test a dose on the test strip before actually using it to ensure that it doesn’t contain fentanyl. If the user has a positive fentanyl dose test, he or she will be advised to take a much smaller dose. The user will also be recommended to avoid using the drug alone.
Organizations such as the New England Drug Users Union also helps in encouraging people who are struggling with substance abuse. The group assists these drug users in trying to create better habits and safe drug use.