According to a report by the Trust for America’s Health, Massachusetts has the 32nd highest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S. In this state alone, 11 per 100,000 persons die from drug overdose. The number of state overdose fatalities has seen a 47% increase since 1999.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 12% of the Boston, MA population have used illicit drugs during the past 30 days. The same survey found that the alcohol use rate in this state was 62%. Heroin abuse is increasing in Massachusetts and at dangerously high levels. The unintentional overdose hospital patient rate has gone up 76% from 2010 to present. The number of admissions related to heroin abuse at hospitals and treatment centers has also increased from 52% in 2012 to 60% in 2015.
Boston is the most populous city in Massachusetts with a population of 667,000. The county seat of Suffolk County, Boston covers 48 square miles. In 1630, the city was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula by the Puritans from England. Known for the Boston Massacre, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Boston Tea Party, this city holds much historical significance. There are many colleges and universities in Boston, making it an international center for higher education. The average family size here is 3.08, and around 22% of the population are age 19 and under. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family income is $61,000, and 16% of families live below the poverty line. The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites increases in unintentional overdoses and increases in heroin use as two hallmark findings for Boston. The two dominant drugs in Boston are heroin and cocaine, with prescription opioids and benzodiazepines remaining at moderate use levels. The unintentional overdose hospital rate for prescription painkillers steadily has increased over the last five years by 66%.
Successive waves of immigrants have helped form Worcester, MA. This city, population 181,000, was first settled by the Swedes but later became home to many Irish, Italians, Poles, Syrians, African-Americans, Russians, French Canadians and more. Named for Worcester England, this city is around 40 miles from Boston and is considered the “Heart of the Commonwealth.” The median age for Worcester is 33 years and 20% of households have children under the age of 18 in them. The top employers in the city of Worcester include University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care, University of Massachusetts Medical School, the City of Worcester, Saint Vincent Hospital and Hanover Insurance. According to a report by the City of Worcester, 64% of Worcester high school students reported using alcohol. In addition, 14% of adolescents admitted to misusing or abusing prescription drugs. In this city, the opioid-related emergency department visit rate is 322 per 100,000.
The county seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts is Springfield. This city sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River, near the confluence of the Westfield, Chicopee and Mill rivers. With an estimated population of 153,000, Springfield is considered part of the Metropolitan Greater Boston Area. The city is often called “the City of Firsts” because of its many innovations. The top five industries in Springfield are trade and transpiration, education and health services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality and government. The racial composition of the city includes 33% Latino/Hispanic, with more than 60% of these people arriving during the last 20 years. The median family income in Springfield, Massachusetts is $51,000 with 21% of families living below the poverty line. Teens in Massachusetts use illegal drugs at a higher rate than the national average, according to the Herald News. The Herald cited a 2013 Behavioral Health Barometer report that found 12% of MA adolescents admitted to using drugs in the 30 days before being surveyed. In addition, 80% of teens said they thought marijuana posed no great risk.
Lowell is located in Middlesex County and has a population of 110,000. Incorporated in 1826, Lowell was named after Francis Cabot Lowell, an Industrial Revolution figure. The city was known for textile mills and factories during the Industrial Revolution with many sites still preserved by the National Park Service. The University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Middlesex Community College are in this city and the average family size here is 3.31. Lowell has the largest population of Cambodian residents than any other area of the U.S., with 12.5% of the population identifying as Cambodian. The median household income in Lowell is $52,000 with 15% of families that live below the poverty line. The Lowell Sun recently reported on a new drug epidemic that has hit the city. There were 185 overdose deaths related to heroin and prescription opioids, which has doubled from 2000. The estimated rate for overdoses is now 10 per 100,000 residents. The health department of the city found that overdosing is most common among persons ages 18 to 25 years.
Located in Middlesex County Massachusetts, Cambridge is home to 105,000 people. Known for Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge has a high concentration of entrepreneurial start-up companies. The racial composition here is 67% White, 12% African-American, 15% Asian and 6% Hispanic/Latino. Of the 44,000 households in Cambridge, 17% of them have children there. The female to male ratio is 100:96 and the average family size is 2.76. Heroin overdose is a problem in Cambridge according to WCVB. Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in the state after a sharp rise in heroin overdoses. In Cambridge, the heroin addiction problem is fueled by the cheap price of the drug as well as its potency. Because of these many problems, Massachusetts health officials implemented the use of Narcan nasal spray, which reverses the harmful effects of heroin. In 2011, Massachusetts had 642 overdoses due to heroin.
New Bedford is a city in Bristol County, Massachusetts, and it has a population of 95,000. Known as “The Whaling City”, because whaling ports were common during the 19th century, New Bedford runs along the Fall River and Taunton. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, The Greater Providence-Fall River-New Bedford area is home to the largest Portuguese-American population in the U.S. The two largest businesses in this area are manufacturing and fishing but tourism is a growing industry. In Cambridge, most of the emergency room visits related to drugs involving non-fatal overdoses, according to the Patriot Ledger. The local police in New Bedford report an increasing number of drug-related arrests in the Cambridge area as well. One police department responded to 101 opiate-related overdose calls in 2011 alone. A statewide report involving treatment admissions found that 38,600 rehab admissions in 2009 were related to heroin.
In Plymouth County, Brockton, MA is a city with 95,000 residents. Often called the “City of Champions,” Brockton is home to native boxers Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano. The city has a total area of 21.6 square miles and the average wind speed here is 14 mph. Mostly an urban area, Brockton lies alone the Salisbury Plain River and is home to the D.W. Field Park, which includes Waldo Lake and the Brockton Reservoir. The racial makeup of Brockton is 47% White, 31% African-American, 2% Asian, 8% Latino and 2% other races. Brockton has the largest group of Cape Verdean ancestry residents, with 9% of people identifying with this group. The average family size here is 3.35 and the median family income is $46,200. The Bureau of Substance Abuse Services stated that heroin use is a problem in Brockton and all over the state of Massachusetts. In 2012 alone, there were 48,092 drug treatment admissions related to heroin use, and of these, 330 were for people under 18 years of age. Approximately 68% of admissions were male, and 32% female.
Part of the Metropolitan Boston Statistical Area, Quincy is located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. With a population of 92,300, Quincy is the birthplace of two U.S. presidents – John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the son. Named after Colonel John Quincy, grandfather of John Quincy Adams, the city was formed in 1888. For years, Quincy was home to a thriving granite industry and was the site of the Granite Railway. Today, the racial makeup here is 66% White, 5% African-American, 24% Asian and 4% Latino. With an average family size of 3.03, 21% of Quincy households have children in them. The female-to-male ratio here is 100:01, and the median household income is $60,000. The Boston Globe reported that drug crime related to illicit drugs increased in Quincy. In a raid that involved 18 houses, officials arrested 31 gang members who were a highly-organized drug trafficking network. Seized were one kilogram of heroin, a half kilogram of cocaine, marijuana, prescription painkillers and $140,000 cash. The Massachusetts Department of Health reported in 2014 that 60% of treatment admissions were related to heroin.
The largest city in Essex County, Massachusetts is Lynn, which is situated on the Atlantic Ocean. Lynn is 10 miles north of downtown Boston. Often referred to as the “City of Sin,” Lynn, MA has a historic reputation for vice and crime. Today, it is known more for its international population, loft-style apartments and historical architecture. In recent decades, Lynn’s LGBT population has seen substantial growth. In 2015, Governor Charlie Baker established a task force to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic, which involved many public and state agencies. According to a report in the Boston Globe, opioid-related overdose fatalities have increased from 2012 to 2014. Statewide, 1,089 people died in Massachusetts from opioids in 2014, which is a 16.5 per 100,000 person rate. Lynn had a rate of 42 per 100,000.
Fall River is in Bristol County, Massachusetts, located on the eastern shore of Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River. Famous in the 19th century as the leading textile manufacturing center in the U.S., Fall River’s official mottos is “We’ll Try.” Famous for the Lizzie Borden case, the city was home to many Portuguese immigrants and today has a reputation for Portugal culture. Around 89,000 people live in Fall River and it is considered part of the Providence Metropolitan Area. The racial composition here is 87% White, 7.4% Hispanic/Portugeuse/Luso-American, 3.5% African-American and 2.5% Asian. With an average family size of 3, there are 100 females to every 83 males. In 2014, BostInno reported on Fall River having 15 overdoses in 24 hours. South coast hospitals treated 2019 heroin overdoses in 2012 and the Massachusetts state police have seen an increase in fatalities since 2013.