Massachusetts Addiction Treatment
There were 104,233 total primary treatment admissions in Massachusetts for substance addiction in 2014. Among those admissions, the percentages of the most commonly abused substances included:
- Heroin: 53.1%
- Alcohol: 31.9%
- Opiates, including prescription and nonprescription: 5.8%
- Marijuana: 4%
- Crack/cocaine: 3.4%
- Other (including methamphetamine, stimulants and benzodiazepines): 1.7%
Heroin’s resurfacing has deeply affected Massachusetts communities across the state. Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes and Essex counties have been particularly affected. On average, each county sees between 20 to 24 deaths per 100,000 residents per year. Most of the state’s heroin comes from drug trafficking operations from New York state and internationally through Boston’s seaports. Many of Massachusetts’ residents jumpstarted their addiction by first taking oxycodone-based painkillers – a gateway drug that commonly leads to heroin abuse.
Another dangerous drug on the rise for Bay Staters is fentanyl. Fentanyl is a strong and fast-acting painkiller that, when abused, mimics the euphoric “high” of heroin. It is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Heroin is often laced with fentanyl, but the amount of pure fentanyl abuse has also increased.
In Massachusetts, 66 percent of confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths that occurred in the first half of 2016 involved fentanyl – an increase from 57 percent in 2015. Pure fentanyl, as well as heroin mixed with fentanyl, is typically cheaper than pure heroin. Because of this, fentanyl has a high likelihood of abuse and dependency.
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Drug Laws In Massachusetts
An average of 11,000 people are arrested for drug offenses every year in Massachusetts, including the sale, possession, trafficking, cultivation and manufacturing of any illegal drug. The state imposes penalties for drug possession that can result in fines, jail time or a combination of both. Fines for drug charges vary according to the crime’s circumstances and a judge’s discretion.
Massachusetts categorizes illegal substances into separate classes – Classes A through E. Class A includes drugs with the highest potential for addiction and the most severe penalties for possession. Meanwhile, Class E drugs include drugs with far less risk for dependency. Class E violations rarely result in jail time, but can result in probation or drug counseling.
|Substance Classification||Maximum Penalty||Substance Examples|
|Class A||First Offense: 2 years in jail||Heroin, morphine, GHB|
|Subsequent Offense: 2 ½ to 5 years in jail|
|Class B||First Offense: Up to 1 year in jail||Methamphetamine, oxycodone, fentanyl|
|Subsequent Offense: Up to 2 years in jail|
|Class C||First Offense: Up to 1 year in jail||Klonopin, hydrocodone, Mescaline|
|Subsequent Offense: Up to 2 years in jail|
|Class D||Less than one ounce: Civil fine up to $100||Marijuana|
|One ounce or more: Up to 2 years in jail and up to $2,000 in fines|
|Class E||Probabtion and/or mandatory drug counseling and treatment||Percocet, codeine, Adderall|
Medical Marijuana Laws
While the recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts is illegal, medical marijuana is permitted for certain medical conditions, including:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Other conditions as determined by the patient’s physician
Access to medical marijuana comes with several limitations. A person cannot possess more than 10 ounces every two months; however, home cultivation is allowed in limited amounts. Patients may designate a personal caregiver, who is at least 21 years or older, to obtain the drug from a state-licensed dispensary if the patient is physically or medically unable to do so.
Massachusetts Addiction Treatment Laws
Substance addiction has the potential to tear apart families, break down economies and threaten public safety. That’s why Massachusetts has implemented several preventive measures that address addiction as an illness that can be treated, rather than a crime that should be punished.
An Act “Relative To Substance Use Treatment, Education And Prevention” (STEP Act)
In an effort to help those who have fallen victim to the state’s opioid prescription drug epidemic, Massachusetts introduced a multi-layered law known as the STEP Act.
The STEP Act places limits on opiate prescriptions to no more than a 72-hour dosage in Massachusetts.
Limiting the number of opiate prescription doses helps reduce the flow of excess, unused prescription drugs into the illegal drug market. In addition, individuals struggling with addiction, or in recovery from an addiction, may indicate in their health records that they shouldn’t be prescribed opiates. If an individual is admitted to the emergency room for an opioid-related overdose, they are required to receive a substance abuse evaluation from a mental health professional before discharge.
The STEP Act also addresses potential substance abuse in Massachusetts schools. Public schools across the state are now required to verbally screen students to determine whether a student has – or is at risk of developing – a substance addiction. The screenings are done by a school nurse or health professional.
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Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT)
Massachusetts has participated in a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) for years. Prescription drug monitoring programs are databases that keep track of all drugs prescribed by a physician or pharmacist in the hopes of curbing potential drug abuse.
However, the state’s original program was slow and difficult to use. In August 2016, Massachusetts introduced a faster, easier-to-use PDMP called MassPAT. MassPAT is designed to better alert physicians of patients at risk of developing an addiction. It also interacts with other states’ online PDMPs to prevent duplicate prescriptions between states.
Before the new system, Massachusetts’ PDMP would only update its database with new patients and prescriptions every seven to 10 days. This would give “doctor shoppers” (people who visit multiple doctors to obtain new drug prescriptions) enough time to get their fix before getting caught. With MassPAT, databases are updated every 24 hours, resulting in more crackdowns on prescription drug abuse – and less substance abuse disorders.
Find Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts
There are many addiction rehab centers located in Massachusetts ready to get you or your loved one the help they need. From long-term residential care to outpatient counseling, people with addictions have more treatment help than ever before.
When weighing your options, the most important thing to remember is that you or your loved one deserves the best treatment available. But sometimes, the perfect rehab isn’t located just around the corner. That’s why many people choose to travel for treatment.
Traveling to a new city or state is oftentimes the best option for rehab. When people simply choose the closest or most convenient rehab option, they limit themselves from getting the specialized, high-quality treatment they truly need. Rather than limiting your options to what’s closest to home, traveling for treatment allows you to be far more selective.
Taking the time to explore all treatment options increases a person’s likelihood of staying sober.
Contact a treatment provider today to learn about available treatment options.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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