June 24, 2022

How the Opioid Epidemic has Affected Massachusetts Residents

by Psych Times Staff

The opioid epidemic took the United States by surprise. In the late 1990s, certain pharmaceutical companies misled doctors, claiming that their opioid products would not be addictive to patients. Doctors, as a result, began prescribing opioids more often for pain relief. 

Now we understand that opioids are highly addictive, but by the time the medical community realized that they had been misled, many of their unprepared patients had already started misusing these drugs. 

The opioid crisis has impacted every state in the U.S., but it hit Massachusetts especially hard. Among people who are looking for drug rehab in Massachusetts, many are seeking help for opioid addiction. 

The Massachusetts Opioid Crisis

Massachusetts, like much of the Northeastern U.S., has a high opioid-related death rate. In fact, Massachusetts has twice as many opioid-related deaths as the national average. 

Residents of the state can access opioids fairly easily, even though Massachusetts has some of the lowest opioid prescription numbers in the nation. Legal opioids are fairly difficult to obtain, so many people have turned to illicit opioids such as heroin, which can be easier to get than prescription drugs. 

Massachusetts is an important location for drug trafficking in the northeast. A highly profitable trafficking route runs through the state. These unregulated drugs have made Massachusetts especially vulnerable. 

The Rise of Fentanyl Use

One of the biggest reasons for opioid deaths in Massachusetts is fentanyl, an opioid that is sometimes prescribed for pain relief. Fentanyl, especially illegal fentanyl, has become especially common in the state. 

This drug is much stronger than many other opioids. In fact, fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than heroin. In medical settings, it’s usually only prescribed for severe pain, surgery-related pain, or for patients who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. 

Fentanyl is especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs. Dealers sometimes cut drugs with other drugs to lower production costs. The buyer often doesn’t know what has been mixed into their product. 

Because heroin can be cut with fentanyl, many people have consumed this powerful opioid without realizing it. It takes much less fentanyl to cause an overdose than other opioids, which is why many unwitting people have died from an accidental fentanyl overdose. 

Why Treatment Matters

With drug addiction, prevention and harm reduction matter. However, it’s also important that Massachusetts has enough treatment options for people with addictions. These treatment options can provide a way for those dealing with addiction to detox for drug and alcohol abuse.

Prevention alone isn’t always enough. Massachusetts has decreased a lot of its risk factors for opioid addiction. For instance, unemployment rates, which correlate to addiction, have gone down in recent years. Additionally, Massachusetts doctors don’t prescribe opioids as often as doctors in other states prescribe them. Still, the state’s opioid crisis continues to grow. 

Thankfully, opioid addiction is a treatable condition. Massachusetts residents may seek a range of treatment options. Those options include: 

  • medical detox 
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT) 
  • individual therapy 
  • group therapy 
  • inpatient rehab
  • outpatient rehab 

In Massachusetts, a lot of medical professionals are experts in opioid addiction. Rehab centers often use a personalized and evidence-based approach to help people recover. 

Find Treatment for Opioid Addiction

What should you do if you think you have an opioid addiction? If possible, tell your doctor about your concerns. They can refer you to specific treatment options. 

If you don’t have a doctor, start by searching for treatment options in the state. Begin with opioid detox treatment options. With opioid addiction, medically-supervised detox is a crucial and life-saving part of healthy recovery, and it’s often the first step of treatment. 

Like most illnesses, addiction can be overwhelming. You might not always know what your best options are. That’s why it’s important to ask for help. Once you take that first step, you can start your path toward wellness and recovery. 


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