In 2010 alone, almost 11,000 DUI arrests were made in the state of Massachusetts. Massachusetts has one of the youngest populations of drug abusers in the nation, and the number of youths who are trying drugs is getting younger every year. Marijuana and alcohol have a high level of social acceptance in the state, and now there is a rising use of heroin, synthetic drugs and prescription drug abuse that could easily overwhelm the treatment system.
What has been the effect of marijuana legislation in Massachusetts?
One of the effects of the marijuana legislation has been to drive the street price down to make it more competitive with the dispensary prices. This has led to it becoming an increasingly appealing drug to experiment with for the young. Combined with a rising trend in alcohol abuse among youth groups, marijuana and alcohol are both being seen as gateways to more serious drug addiction and abuse problems. The fact that the surrounding states are also making moves towards legalizing marijuana is also contributing to a rise in the problem as there are many more options for where it can be obtained and the cost difference.
What other drugs are of concern in Massachusetts?
Heroin is on the rise but the two illegal drugs of the greatest concern in Massachusetts are currently heroin and cocaine. Cocaine abuse continues to be a significant factor across all age groups but there is also a surprising rise of heroin abuse among males and females ages 18 to 28. The ease of availability and low cost of the drugs are making them the drug of choice that is often combined with alcohol. The anchor college communities are thought to be what is providing the core social acceptance base for the use of heroin.
The continuing problem of alcohol in Massachusetts
Alcohol abuse remains a chronic problem in Massachusetts that is affecting society on an individual and community level. It was only recently replaced as the primary drug that people sought treatment for by heroin. Becoming more common than just alcohol abuse is also the abuse of alcohol in combination with other drugs. The treatment centers in Massachusetts reported that over 20,000 people were admitted for treatment in the past year for alcoholism, but an additional 11,000 plus persons were admitted for alcohol and other drug abuse as well.
What about illegal prescription drug use?
Massachusetts also has a growing problem with illegal prescription drug use. It is rising simultaneously with the number of persons being hospitalized and/or dying from accidental overdose from the combination of illegal prescription drugs and alcohol or heroin. This is both occurring on a street level with direct purchase and use of the drugs by those who were not prescribed them, and on by persons who have been prescribed the drugs but are not taking them as directed. It is estimated that 8% of all people treated for drug abuse and addiction are being treated for prescription drug addictions in addition to other drug abuse issues. One of the main concerns is that in conjunction to the rise of prescription drug abuse , there is also a rise in the number of people using synthetic drugs and “legal” highs.
Why are legal highs such a problem?
The so-called “legal highs” most of which are illegal, are synthetic drugs that are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, heroin and cocaine. They use a variety of chemical substances to do this – some of which have proven deadly and toxic to the human body. It is difficult to criminalize these drugs because they are synthetics that use approved ingredients to create their effect. As certain ingredients or combinations are banned it is easy for the manufacturers to create a new ingredient list to sell as “bath salts” or “incense.” The main issue with these drugs is their toxicity and ability to very often trigger psychosis.
Are drugs getting better or worse in Massachusetts?
The drug problem is steadily getting worse in Massachusetts and the age range it is most effecting is from 13 to 25. The number of drug related deaths and drug related accidents are not at 100% more than deaths and accidents related to cars and firearms. The widespread nature of the problem encompasses all areas of the state, and all socio economic classes. Massachusetts is seeking better ways to interrupt the flow of drugs in, as well as to provide better drug treatment care.