Many people think of Massachusetts, and New England in general, as an oversized suburb. Because of this, residents are often surprised to find that the opioid crisis has reached into the Bay State. Many people assume that these drug addicts are criminals with long rap sheets and poor morals, but these drugs often came from the least likely sources.
In fact, according to Business Insider, it is prescription drugs that brought heroin into the suburbs. Medical groups are considered responsible for pushing pain killers as a treatment option onto doctors who then passed that on to patients. Clinics that prescribed legal opioids then began to appear all across the nation around this time. The end result was that in the 1990s and 2000s, doctors prescribed opioids for almost all types of pain.
By 2011, 219 million prescriptions were making it into the hands of Americans every year. The opioid crisis has only become worse since then. The opioid epidemic took 52,404 lives in 2015 and costs the U.S. $78.5 billion per year.
Most of the people receiving these prescriptions were middle class Whites with great health benefits. This then presented a hazard to family and friends. Sometimes they offered the drug to friends and family members, while other times, these drugs were stolen by family members and made their way to parties.
According to WebMD, 48 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs when they had no medical condition that necessitated this. To put this into better perspective, 48 million people represent 20% of the American population. While opioids are most notorious, people also abuse depressants and stimulants. Many then move on to harder drugs, such as heroin.
Not surprisingly, the epidemic only grows worse. Some politicians have recommended harsher penalties for drug crimes in the form of longer prison sentences. However, critics repeatedly put forward that America cannot legislate its way out of its drug problem. What people struggling with substance abuse need more than ever is a clearer path to becoming sober and the support system to maintain it.