Did you know that cocaine used to be the primary drug addiction problem throughout Massachusetts? That has changed and now heroin is the driving force that is destroying our communities. Heroin purity levels in Massachusetts vary, but they have been on a steady rise in the last few years. According to the Department of Justice:
Cocaine has long been the primary drug threat to the state and law enforcement authorities in counties with fewer than 500,000 people continue to identify cocaine, particularly crack, as their greatest drug threat. In the more populated counties of Massachusetts, heroin’s popularity has surpassed that of cocaine because of its dramatic rise in purity and a substantial drop in price.
However, today it is safe to say that no one knows the exact purity of the heroin they may get in Massachusetts due to the drug being mixed with another powerful opioid called Fentanyl. Fentanyl is very potent and can be deadly in the smallest amounts. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Massachusetts has higher than the national average of overdose deaths and both heroin and fentanyl were found in the blood of 85 percent of the state overdose fatalities. Since heroin and fentanyl are being mixed and unknowingly combined, it’s possible that someone that overdoses from fentanyl may have believed they were getting heroin instead.
Colombian and Dominican drug trafficking organizations dominate heroin markets in Massachusetts and supply most of the largest and most violent drug distribution groups in the state. Organizations in New York City supply most of the heroin in Massachusetts, but the drugs are often shipped through the greater Boston area. Most heroin is transported to Massachusetts in privately owned, borrowed, or leased vehicles by way of public transportation along Interstate 95 and other major highways. Some shipments are brought to Massachusetts by couriers traveling on commercial flights into Boston or smaller domestic airports. Heroin is probably shipped by maritime means as well, via the major port of Boston. (U.S Department of Justice)
Heroin is a powerful illicit opioid drug. Heroin’s intense euphoric rush like feel makes it highly addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 80 percent of people who abuse heroin began misusing prescription opioids first. With the current regulations on prescription opioids in the United States, those that have become addicted find it easier and cheaper to get heroin versus a prescription opioid to keep them from getting sick or experiencing the terrible withdrawals that come with opioid addiction.
How Heroin Changes Your Brain
Along with chronic conditions and infectious diseases, ongoing heroin use can cause changes to the brain. Additional risks associated with heroin abuse and addiction is that heroin is an illicit substance, therefore use always involves a criminal element. Heroin is illegal, so if one is apprehended with heroin, they may face criminal charges which could potentially lead to a prison sentence. Heroin dependency does not only damage the abuser’s life but the lives of those closest to him or her. Loved ones and family members are inevitably affected, whether directly or indirectly. As heroin purity levels in Massachusetts continue to rise, this problem will grow and continues to be difficult to manage by our local and state officials.
What Are the Dangers of Heroin Abuse?
As stated above, one of the biggest dangers of heroin abuse and addiction is the risk of an overdose and/or death. A heroin overdose doesn’t always lead to death. To prevent a fatality it’s important to know some of the signs and symptoms of a heroin overdose.
- Shallow breathing and difficulty breathing
- Bluish nails and/or lips
- Low blood pressure and weak pulse
- Mental disorientation
- Spastic muscles
- Discolored tongue
- Pinpoint pupils
Along with the high risk of overdose, chronic heroin users can face many dangerous health problems. Some of the health problems include infectious diseases that stem from users sharing unsterilized drug paraphernalia. Some of these health problems and long-term consequences include:
- Liver disease (Hepatitis C or otherwise)
- Pulmonary infections and other complications
- Arthritis and rheumatologic problems
- Collapsed veins
- Infection of heart valves and lining
- Chronic constipation
- Kidney disease
- Heart infections
- Skin abscesses and infections
- Increased risk of contracting Hepatitis
- Heightened risk of exposure to HIV
- Greater likelihood of contracting other blood-borne viruses
- Deterioration of white matter in the brain
- Lack of stress-control skills
- Infertility (in women)
Professional Heroin Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you love needs help with a heroin addiction, please contact our addiction specialists around the clock. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers solution-focused addiction treatment, and we will be happy to guide you to lasting recovery. Massachusetts drug detox is the first step in the recovery process, followed by rehabilitation that includes individual counseling sessions and group therapy.