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Boston, MA​

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Boston, MA

Boston, MA has a long significant place in history giving us the Boston Tea Party and also serves as one of the most important ports in America. What this means? The Boston ports are a leading point of entry for a number of illegal drugs and drug traffickers to enter into the United States.

One particular drug that is plaguing Boston and the Northeast is the opioid epidemic. This drug is having devastating effects on over 2 million Americans, although high rises in cocaine and alcohol is also afflicting Boston. With a population roughly over 685,000, we can see how this has become a significant focus for government officials. In Boston, addiction and abuse doesn’t discriminate effecting all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.

alcohol abuse and addiction

in boston, MA

Drug and Alcohol Rehabs in Boston, MA | Addiction Treatment Center

The rates of alcohol abuse continue to rise

with college students being the most susceptible. This is a vast issue with over 152,000 college students and 35 universities. The Behavioral Health Barometer, in 2015, reports that youths and young adults ages 12 to 20 binge drink alcohol at rates higher than what the national averages indicate; data collected from 2013 and 2014 suggest a past-month binge drinking rate of 17.7 percent for underage residents compared to a national underage past-month binge drinking rate of 14 percent. Rates of illicit drug dependence or abuse for Massachusetts residents were a little higher than national averages as well. Approximately 3 percent of residents struggled with drug abuse each year for 2013 and 2014 versus a national average of 2.6 percent. Massachusetts is also facing serious issues related to opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose, as Massachusetts ranked sixth in the USA for number of overdose deaths in 2015.

Methadone Mile

A concerning statistic published by the Massachusetts DPH that close to 2,000 residents died from an opioid overdose in 2017, most of which (83 percent of confirmed opioid overdoses recorded where a toxicology screen was available) involved the drug fentanyl. Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that’s overwhelmed the streets of the United States, especially the Eastern Seaboard recently. At 50 times more potent than heroin, fentanyl is being manufactured in illegal laboratories, and it often used to “cut” and stretch other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit prescription medications. In 2017, the National Drug Threat Assessment reported that Massachusetts had the second highest number of fentanyl reports in the United States for 2016.

2,000 residents died from an opioid overdose in 2017
83 percent of confirmed opioid overdoses recorded involved the drug fentanyl

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Boston Strong for Substance Abuse Treatment

Boston is one of the largest metro cities in America.

However, with this comes along many factors such as substance abuse. Lawmakers in Massachusetts are working together to overcome an issue that is growing of epidemic proportions. According to Boston’s NPR news, Massachusetts is one of 37 states where a person can have another involuntarily committed when they are concerned about their drug and/or alcohol use. This program provides treatment in a minimum security facility where residents stay on average for 30-90 days, meeting with experienced drug and alcohol abuse counselors. Additionally, the state operates 27 adult and three juvenile drug courts as specialty courts designed to help individuals who are arrested for drug-related and nonviolent offenses, get the treatment needed instead of facing prison or jail time. When a person completes the mandated treatment program, they may be able to have their charges dropped or sentences reduced. 

Congress is now working on the Massachusetts House Bill 4134 

which includes several provisions aimed at expanding access to treatment for mental health and substance use conditions. Astoundingly, the Bill would require providers and payers to increase spending on behavioral healthcare by 30% over the next several years.

Recovery Coaches

The most exciting part of Bill 4134 is it would establish a board of registration of “Recovery Coaches” within the Department of Public Health, giving them the ability to license and regulate recovery coaches. A “Recovery Coach” is defined as an individual who has “lived experience” of addiction and recovery from a substance use disorder, at least two years of sustained recovery, uses shared understanding, respect and mutual empowerment to help recovering addicts become and stay engaged in the process of recovery from a substance use disorder. It hasn’t been defined to what extent payers will cover for the services of these “Recovery Coaches.” However, the creation of this regulatory regime governing “Recovery Coaches” seems like a huge step forward and an important step in recognizing that successful, long-term recovery from a substance use disorder requires community support.



Massachusetts Statistics

current boston, MA opioid statistics as of 2019

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