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Massachusetts Illegal Drug Addiction

What Is Illegal Drug Addiction?

Illegal drugs are substances that are only recognized as having very minimal medical value, if any at all. For instance, methamphetamine has been very rarely used in the treatment of extreme cases of obesity and narcolepsy, but otherwise illegal drugs have virtually no legitimate medical use.

The classification as ‘illegal drugs’ is derived from the fact that they are only available for sale on the streets and not with a prescription. Some of these drugs are produced within the United States, but the majority are smuggled in from other countries.

Since these drugs have no legitimate medical use, just about any use of an illegal drug (street drug) can be classified as abuse. These drugs are dangerous as the contents of the substances are usually unknown, they can be relatively easy to find, and cause the onset of addiction in a frighteningly short amount of time.

Massachusetts Illegal Drug Addiction Statistics

According to treatment statistics collected by the state’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, heroin the biggest illegal drug problem that Massachusetts currently faces. Each year about 140,000 people in the state will use heroin. The overwhelming majority of heroin abusers in Massachusetts are white males who are unemployed and have a median age of 31. Almost half of all those who presented for heroin treatment, whether male or female and of any age and ethnicity, also reported having previously been treated for mental health issues.

This is not to say that other illegal drugs are not present or a problem in the state. Abuse of cocaine is also a significant issue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 4,000 people will seek treatment for cocaine abuse each year in Massachusetts.

Meth has typically been seen as having a very minor presence in the northeastern states, at least as compared to its rampant use in western and Midwestern states. However, use is on the rise in Massachusetts and law enforcement warns of potential for an epidemic. Detectives in Provincetown warned that use of it is particularly common among the gay male community, and that arrests for crimes related to meth addictions have been on the rise.

The Most Commonly Abused Illegal Drugs


Heroin is a synthetic derivative of the opium poppy. This is a quality that it shares with opiate-based pain pills that are prescribed by doctors. While pain pills are considered relatively safe for short-term use when taken as prescribed, heroin is highly addictive and can also have dangerous impurities. In its pure form it is a white powder, though the heroin sold on the streets is usually darker due to being cut with additives.

Some common symptoms of heroin abuse include flushed skin, confusion, lethargy and sudden bouts of sleeping in the middle of the day (nodding out). Heroin users most frequently inject the drug, so they will likely have track marks on their arms, legs or feet. They may also have lengths of rubber tubing in their possession.

Heroin is a Schedule I drug. It is seen as having no medical value and a very high potential for addiction.

The greatest immediate risk of heroin use is death by slowed respiration. Intravenous users can also blow veins and contract serious diseases by sharing needles. In the long term, heroin can cause brain damage, with a particular effect on the regions of the brain that control decision-making and regulation of behavior. Liver, kidney and heart disease are also common among longtime heroin users.



Meth is a very powerful synthetic stimulant. Though some people may only know it from the show “Breaking Bad”, it has been ravaging the western and Midwestern states for almost two decades. The name comes from its crystalline appearance.

Meth users will be bursting with energy while high, and the drug may keep them awake for days at a time. They may sweat excessively, twitch or appear confused. They may also have bursts of irrational or violent behavior.

It often surprises people to learn that meth is a Schedule II drug. This is primarily because it does have some limited medical use. It is sometimes prescribed under the trade name Desoxyn for extreme cases of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder or obesity. These prescriptions are very rare, however, and usually only in cases where the condition could otherwise be fatal.

The greatest short-term risk of meth use is overdose, which can cause a cerebral hemorrhage. Chronic use of lower doses also causes a wide range of health problems, however. The notorious “meth mouth” is caused by a combination of the drug inducing dry mouth and causing users to grind their teeth, often compounded by ignoring their oral cleaning for long periods of time. Meth is also a neurotoxin and will kill brain cells over time. People have also developed psychotic and delusional symptoms with chronic use.


Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is grown in an equatorial climate and almost exclusively comes from countries in Latin America. It is a potent stimulant, delivering an intense but short-lived high with a burst of energy.

As with other central nervous system stimulants, cocaine will make the user energetic and talkative while they are high. They may sniffle or rub their nose, since the most common method of use is to snort it.

Cocaine is a Schedule II drug. It has some extremely limited medical applications in emergency surgery and for people who are allergic to most other topical anesthetics.

Too high of a dose of cocaine can cause panic attacks, extreme paranoia and even full-blown psychosis accompanied by hallucinations. Heart attacks have also occurred. Long-term snorting of cocaine reduces the sense of smell and damages nasal tissue, even eventually wearing the tissue between the nostrils completely away in extreme cases.

The Mechanisms of Addiction

Addictive drugs tend to work in the same way. They block the receptors that normally recycle the chemicals that the brain produces for “reward” feelings, causing them to back up and accumulate in larger amounts than normal. Over time, however, these receptors lose their function, and the body comes to see the addictive drug as a necessity of life.

Massachusetts Illegal Drug Addiction Treatment

Whatever the addiction, it is important to get into detox as soon as possible. This is the first step in the treatment process. From detox, patients move on to an inpatient or outpatient program that is best suited to their needs.

The highly trained staff at a certified medical facility can develop the right treatment plan for anyone in need. If you’re struggling with an addiction, turn your life around today by contacting an accredited treatment facility.