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Heroin Use in Worcester: Top Stories in Central Mass in 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012


Opiate abuse, in the form of both prescription opioid painkillers and heroin, emerged as a major issue in Worcester in 2012.

The City's Division of Public Health, in its "Health of Worcester" report, found that lifetime heroin use among high school age youths was nearly 5 percent, twice the state and national averages. Through the end of November, the number of all opiate overdoses in the city increased by approximately 37 percent from 2011, and heroin-specific overdoses increased by approximately 47 percent from the prior year.

The findings prompted the Division of Public Health to make substance abuse and mental health top priorities in the coming years.

Meanwhile, a controversial pilot program from the state's Department of Public Health that distributes prescription drug naloxone, which blocks opioids and restores normal breathing when administered during an overdose, available for free to individuals over the age of 18 who are either current users of opiates or likely to come across a friend or loved one experiencing an overdose garnered criticism from the Main South Alliance for Public Safety for, they argued, offering drug users a sense of confidence that could encourage more use.


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