Heroin Epidemic In Boston

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Pain Medication Leads to Heroin Addiction


The story is usually the same . After a car accident or sports related injury that requires surgery, the patient is given opioid pain killers. Sometimes the prescription is refilled a few times. The doctor decides you have had enough narcotic medication, but your body is already dependent. The patient finds a doctor who will continue his prescription for oxycontin, or morphine for a few months and that is all it takes to be addicted to opiates.  So now the patient runs out early because he took 2 pills instead of one, and the doctor says he is not allowed to give early refills. Friends offer alternative to buy pills on the street. these pills are very expensive, but heroin will do the same high much cheaper. Not long after that the patient is using heroin daily.

Emergency rooms are now filled with these patients. women and people of color are less likely to receive prescription opioids.

“Physicians have been prescribing an enormous amount of opiate pain medication,” says Bart. “We’re dealing with the aftermath.”

“When patients come in severe pain, it’s very easy to reach for an opioid.”

However, some people do not even get that far. “Many patients are exposed to opioid pain medication without meeting a doctor at all,” Barnett says. “much of the heroin epidemic has been fueled by not being able to afford prescription opioids.”

In between synthetic opiates—such as vicodin, oxycodone, and morphine, prescribed by doctors—and opium poppies is the street drug known as heroin. Pure heroin can be almost 100 times more powerful than its prescribed form dilaudid. When heroin is “cut” with fentanyl—50 times more potent than heroin alone, addicts die.

Jimmy Wirnik, director of media and press relations at City Police Department, says that “every minute counts” during a heroin overdose, especially when that heroin is laced with the deadly fentanyl.

“This year there has been an increase in overdoses,” says Wirnik.

“The Special Investigation Unit has historically been our drug addiction treatment department. We have a variety of programs that we can refer the addict to. If the patient has medicaid we refer them to a state run drug rehab facility. If they have health insurance we can refer them to a variety of treatment centers for substance abuse. We have some facilities on our list that specialize in dual diagnosis, couples, LGBT etc..

We have ability to send them out of state if they have health insurance which is better because they need to get away from people and places associated with their heroin addiction. Married addicts with children are sent to rehab for couples programs specializing in family therapy

We also provide them with a list of resources for overcoming addiction. “It’s not a jail approach, but a treatment approach,” he says. “[It’s] a new strategy that has been in place for about a year.”

“If that individual is willing to work with us,” Warnick continues, “we’ll refer them to a licensed social worker.” He notes cases where a detective has transported individuals to sober houses in Taunton, Cape Cod, and Worcester, if there are no beds available in Cambridge.