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Pain Medication and Heroin In Massachusetts

In Massachusetts it is becoming a larger and larger problem that young people are abusing prescription pain medications for recreational purposes. They believe, mistakenly, that because these are legal, prescribed drugs they are safe. Nothing could be more wrong. Opioid pain medications are legal only by prescription for a very important reason, they are dangerous and addictive. When physicians prescribe these pills, with names such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, Roxicodone, or Opana, they do it advisedly, carefully and only for the purposes for which the drug was intended.

Even when used properly and exactly per the directions of the doctor and on the medicine bottle itself, these are dangerous drugs to be used with great caution.

The governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker spoke on the increasing opioid drug abuse trend in the state, "With every passing month the stories and the data and the trends just get worse." According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts saw more than 1000 people die from overdoses of heroin and other opioids in 2014. The highest number reported in the state's history, and a surprising 33 percent higher than in 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the US more than 49 people die every day for overdose of prescription pain killers. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions for painkillers were written by healthcare providers, enough to provide every American adult with their own bottle.

When pain medications are abused, they are taken in dosages and amounts that do not adhere to any recommended dosages, dangerous side effects occur including unsafe and even life threatening reductions in heart and breathing rates. Respiratory depression is one of the most common causes of death in opioid overdose cases.

According to one Massachusetts physician, "We are in the midst of an epidemic of opiate use and overdose deaths that has many causes, including over-prescribing by doctors, cheap and easy to obtain heroin, the lacing of heroin with fentanyl, and inadequate treatment facilities and options."

When these facts are combined with a strikingly insufficient number of effective drug rehab facilities in the state, it becomes apparent that the Massachusetts opioid addiction problem isn't going to abate soon.

Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 12 or Older in Massachusetts, by Substate Region: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010, 2011, and 2012 NSDUHs (Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

According to the State Department of Public Health, Opioid overdoses have been steadily rising in Massachusetts since 2010, from 526 during that year, to 836 in 2013.

Massachusetts State Government Agencies

Drug Abuse Facts

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