Steeped in colonial history and rich in natural beauty, Massachusetts is a popular destination for tourists and home to almost 7 million residents. From ball games to day hikes to history lessons in the state’s capital of Boston, there is no lack of things to do. However, plagued with street gangs and a prime location for drug trafficking, Massachusetts can be a cradle for drug use and addiction.
Sandwiched between New York and the Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts is in a prime location to be at the center of the major drug trade. Large coastal cities like Boston and Salem serve as a prime target to smuggle drugs into American ports, to be distributed throughout the state and up the East Coast. With so much of it around, it can be easy to fall into the grasps of drug use and addiction. There is hope, and in recent years more top addiction rehabilitation facilities have popped up across Massachusetts, looking to turn lives around and make a difference.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that is widespread across not only Massachusetts, but the entire United States. Addiction can affect individuals of any race, culture, gender, class, income level, or age. There are many instances where addiction can go unnoticed for a very long time, during which an individual can function normal in their day to day lives while addiction continues to consume them.
There are many drugs, such as alcohol and cocaine, that create intense chemical and physical dependencies in the body which can be difficult and even dangerous to break. All drug addictions, however, can create deeply seeded mental and emotional dependencies that can alter an individual’s behavior and ultimately uproot their life. These behavioral changes and emotional dependencies can be even more difficult to break than the physical effects of addiction.
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It is not uncommon for someone suffering from addiction to continue to use a drug despite the negative impact it has had on their relationships, career, and personal life. This is essentially the definition of addiction – a disease that cannot be controlled by the affected individual. Despite the fact that using the drug goes against what they know is good for their lives and health, these individuals are unable to say no to the drug.
Signs Of Substance Abuse
Even if someone suffering from addiction is unable to admit it, there are some telltale signs that can point to substance abuse or dependency, including:
- Mood swings
- Depression or loneliness
- A desire to be alone more often than usual
- Changes in appearance such as weight, cleanliness, and skin clarity
- Agitation, anxiety, and paranoia
- Unusual absences or tardiness to work, social events, and gatherings
- Changing jobs frequently, or inability to hold a job
- A change or loss of interest in hobbies
- Always short on money despite being steadily employed
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from addiction, you know them better than most people. Sometimes even the slightest change in personality and interests can indicate an addiction. The most important thing you can do for your loved one is make sure they know you’re there to listen and help them, and when the time is right help them seek professional treatment for their addiction.
The Dangers Of Heroin And Cocaine
Perhaps the biggest threat to Massachusetts in terms of drug trafficking and addiction is the widespread sale and use of heroin and cocaine across the state. Both heroin and cocaine are highly addictive drugs that can cause major damage to the brain and other organs in the body, even after just a few doses.
The drug trafficking and sales of these two drugs is also notoriously violent in the state of Massachusetts. This is partially due to the heavy trafficking that can occur around major coastal cities, as well as the gangs that are associated with the drug trade. The city of Boston alone is home to several infamous street gangs including 18th Street Gang, Hells Angels, and the Winter Hill Gang. With much of their business centered around the drug trade, violence can be commonplace in the neighborhoods that these gangs run.
Both heroin and cocaine leave behind a trail of lost lives from addiction and violence. Massachusetts has continued to run aggressive campaigns against the drugs in schools and communities, and attempts to support the recovery of addicts in large cities through treatment clinics and shelters. Despite these efforts, addiction rates continue to rise in many cities across the state.
Cocaine In Massachusetts
Cocaine once plagued the Massachusetts nightlife in the 80s and 90s, resulting in widespread addiction to the drug. This lead to a spike in admissions to inpatient rehab centers and hospital clinics for cocaine addiction and dependency.
Cocaine is also referred to as:
- Nose candy
Cocaine is a popular drug used at parties or social events due to its fast-acting effect and intense high. This intense high, however, is short-lived and often gives way to strong feelings of depression and anxiety. People that use cocaine have reported feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, aggression, and hostility long after the drug’s effects have worn off. Unfortunately, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs available on the streets, which can lead users back to it once these aftereffects kick in. Cocaine creates such a strong psychological dependence that it can be addictive after the very first time.
Cocaine has equally devastating effects on your body as it does on your mind. The rush, or high, from cocaine causes an immediate spike in blood pressure and breathing within minutes of snorting or injecting it. This can cause body temperature to increase rapidly, as well as dizziness and sometimes unconsciousness. Over prolonged periods of use, cocaine can cause permanent damage to blood vessels, kidneys, and the heart. Continuous snorting of the drug can also destroy soft tissues and cartilage in the nasal cavity, that can often only be fixed with nasal reconstruction.
Heroin In Massachusetts
Since cocaine’s reign in the 90s, however, heroin has taken over as Massachusetts’ most dangerous drug. This is partly due to the sharp drop in price that occurred at the turn of the century, which made the drug more accessible to individuals with lower incomes. The purity of heroin also increased dramatically around this time, which means the heroin bought on the streets was often not cut with any type of ‘filler’ such as sugar or corn starch.
The purity of heroin, or the differences in purity from dose to dose, helps contribute to the addictive qualities of the drug. Heroin users often don’t know the true strength or purity of the drug until it is already in their system, which can easily lead to an overdose. The human body also builds a tolerance to heroin rather quickly, which can lead to progressively larger doses each and every use.
Heroin addiction has taken over cocaine as the primary admission type in Massachusetts drug rehab facilities. Along with this statistic is an increase in heroin-related arrests both for the distribution and possession of the drug. This increase in arrests signifies that the availability of heroin is on the rise, making it easily accessible to individuals who are prone to addiction or have a history of drug use.
The opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on the sale, distribution, and consumption rates of heroin in Massachusetts. Prescription opioids are highly addictive and can quickly lead to dependency even when taken exactly as prescribed. Once a prescription can no longer be filled, or when prescription opioids become too expensive to support as a habit, individuals may turn to heroin as a cheap and easily accessible alternative. This has helped grow the network of heroin trafficking across the state, taking it outside of city limits and further into the suburbs and rural towns.
Drug Trade And Use In Massachusetts
Massachusetts’ unique location helps the drug trade industry within the state’s boundaries thrive. Major coastal cities like Boston and Salem provide good business, while traffickers move drugs from the coast inland towards New York. Cities with international ports like Boston can make trafficking much easier than inland cities, allowing millions of dollars to cross directly across the United States borders from international waters.
Not surprisingly, Boston’s only international airport is also a prime area for foreign drug trade to enter the United States. Logan International Airport has been host to numerous drug busts over the past decade, with one of the largest being 22 pounds of heroin seized from one single individual. Much of the heroin and opium trade that arrives at Logan International Airport comes from Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, while most cocaine arrives across the United States/Mexican border and the Gulf.
Heroin is the state’s biggest issue when it comes to drug addiction and overdose, with emergency rooms in the state reporting heroin related emergencies to be four times higher than the rest of the nation. Massachusetts treatment centers also report that heroin has surpassed cocaine as the most common addiction treatment received by clients in the state. Boston in particular has had a long and drawn out fight against heroin, where thousands have lost their lives to the drug.
The good news is recent surveys show a decrease in heroin and cocaine use among high school aged students. While this decrease was not seen in adults, it does show that Massachusetts’ campaigns against heroin and cocaine have been successful with the high school generation. There is hope that the future will look a little cleaner for the state.
Types Of Treatment
Medical detox is a necessary first step in the recovery process for individuals suffering from addiction to benzodiazepines, alcohol, and some types of opioids. These specific addictions have a higher risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, generally associated with seizure due to the instability detoxing can cause after prolonged periods of drug use.
Utilizing a clinical approach to safely detox drugs from the body, medical detox provides around the clock supervision from physicians and nurses. Some medical detox facilities may provide drug therapies to help ease the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms, while others may focus on other methods of easing the pain.
Medical detox is only a first step, and should not be considered a full rehabilitation program. Although detox can be beneficial in treating the physical dependency of benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioid, it does not necessarily address the mental and emotional factors of addiction. Successful recovery journeys include both medical detox and inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation programs.
Inpatient rehabilitation is considered a vital step in the recovery journey due to its multi-faceted approach to treating addiction. Most inpatient rehab facilities will offer a variety of modalities and approaches, including clinical support, emotional therapy, one on one counseling, group therapy, behavior therapy, and character building through activities such as hiking and art. Utilizing these approaches in a combination that fits the client’s needs and expectations can help tailor rehab programs to each individual.
Inpatient rehab allows patients to physically reside within the rehab facility, allowing them to focus completely on their recovery. Physically residing in a facility also helps remove clients from the temptations and stressors that contributed to their addiction before rehab. For this reason, it is not uncommon for families to send their loved ones to a rehab center that is out of state to remove them entirely from their surroundings.
Many past clients can remark on the relationships they built during their time in inpatient rehab, and how much those relationships have helped them along their journey to recovery. Group therapies can be an especially valuable technique for individuals who may struggle with thinking they are alone in their addiction. This type of comradery and support from peers struggling from addiction can help drive the success of an individual’s recovery.
Outpatient rehab is typically intended to be a program that supplements inpatient rehab once a client returns to their own home, however there are some outpatient programs that standalone from other treatment types. When used in conjunction with an inpatient rehab program, outpatient rehab can continue utilizing the behavioral and emotional approaches that were used during inpatient rehab to continue this care in a client’s home. This continuity of treatment can help keep a client along the road to recovery and decrease the chance of a relapse down the road.
Outpatient rehab programs generally consist of regular meetings and counseling sessions that are able to be planned around a normal work and social routine. One on one counseling, group meetings, alumni events, and sponsorship from others are often a part of outpatient rehab. There are many benefits to sticking with an outpatient rehab program, but perhaps the most important is finding a network of people with a desire to support and encourage you along your road to recovery.
It is not uncommon for clients in outpatient rehab to find friends and a support team that will last the rest of their lives. The purpose of outpatient rehab is not to break an addiction, but rather to keep you on track long after you have achieved sobriety. It is important to remember that a five-year addiction cannot be overcome in a 30-day rehab program, but it is a decades-long struggle that can be made easier with the right support system in place.
Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts
If any of the treatment types mentioned above sound like an option that could help you or a loved one overcome any type of drug addiction, there are many rehabilitation facilities across the state that can help. Professional drug rehabilitation can be a powerful tool to utilize on the road to recovery, especially when a program is tailored to your needs specifically.
Swift River is an addiction treatment facility located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Sitting on 500 acres of pristine mountain scenery, Swift River provides the perfect environment for healing years of abuse and addiction. With many different programs to choose from, such as detoxification services, physical health assessments, psychological help, behavioral adjustment techniques, adventure therapies, and aftercare services, Swift River can provide you with a fully customizable treatment program that can help you reach your goal.
For more information on Swift River and the rehabilitation programs they have to offer, call us today. Your call is always 100% confidential, and our addiction treatment specialists are available around the clock to answer any questions you may have about addiction treatment at Swift River. Your journey to recovery can begin today.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts — NAMI Mass