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Worcester MA: 1 in 20 high school kids have shot up heroin

By source, Nov 19, 2012 | | |
  1. source
    A shocking statistic about heroin and youth is a wake-up call for Worcester and area communities. One of every 20 local high school kids reports having shot up heroin, according to a private report issued by the Massachusetts Health Council Inc.

    That 1-in-20 statistic comes in turn from the “2011 Youth Survey Worcester Public Schools,” conducted by the Worcester Department of Public Health.

    Students answering a survey were from the Worcester public and parochial schools, as well as four high schools from the greater Worcester area.

    Along with questions about whether they’d eaten carrots recently and were physically active, students were asked if they’d ever used heroin.

    Shockingly, 4.9 percent of participants replied they had.

    One survey of this nature is not going to nail hard numbers down, and this particular statistic could be an outlier.

    But even if the 4.9 percent figure for students overstates actual usage, it points to a problem that cannot be ignored.

    Heroin and other opioid use is far too high in our state. The Massachusetts Health Council report points most menacingly at Boston, but Worcester does not fare at all well, either — and the problem has clearly seeped into the schools.

    In 2009, according to the health council report, 2.1 percent of state residents, and 2.5 percent of U.S. residents, had used heroin. That 4.9 percent of local high school students answered in the affirmative in 2011 is alarming.

    And the overall drug-use trends remain troubling, as well.

    The health council report cites state Department of Public Health data which show that in fiscal 2011, 9.6 percent of Massachusetts residents aged 12 or older were dependent on or abused drugs or alcohol. Among those 18 to 25, the figure was 23.4 percent.

    According to Karyn E. Johnson, coordinator of substance abuse programs for the Worcester DPH, the surprising statistic on heroin opened the department’s eyes to the need to focus drug-combating efforts at younger ages, down to the middle school level. Typically, adults with an overdose history are targeted.

    Ms. Johnson also suggested kids are finding it harder to obtain prescription drugs on the street, and so have turned to heroin, which is relatively inexpensive.

    What they don’t fully realize is the horrible cost illicit drugs have in terms of addiction and their future. Sharing needles with other heroin users also carries serious disease risks.

    The heroin problem is huge in Boston, that city outdoing even New York City, Chicago and Detroit in the rate of emergency room visits specifically involving heroin. In fact, the illicit drug problems in Boston is the worst of the 11 major metropolitan regions in the U.S. studied, the health council report said, citing data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    In other stark statistic for Worcester, the report says there were 4,821 people admitted to drug rehab programs in 2010 from the city, and about half of those involved addiction to opiate-based drugs, including heroin and Oxycontin.

    We underscore the comment made by state Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester: “This report ought to be a wake-up call for everybody.”

    The situation has festered for years. Sources need to be found and cut off, and kids as well as adults need to be educated in wise and effective ways.

    The abuse of heroin and other drugs in Worcester — or anywhere — must be faced and fought. Young people especially need to be protected, or in some cases brought back, from the ugly and debilitating grip of addiction.

    Telegram.com, November 18th 2012.


  1. profesor
    I used to live in Worcester, it's nickname is Wormtown. It was depressing to live there, I was very glad to move out.
  2. source
    So do you think that 4.9 percent of high school kids having used heroin is about right for Worcester? Or could the kids have lied on the survey?
    The place obviously has very high drug use regardless but I was just wondering if there was an evident problem with teen heroin use there.
  3. kailey_elise
    Honestly, I think the number is too LOW, considering Worcester.

    We have a HUGE opioid problem here in Massachusetts, with Boston, Worcester & Fall River being the worst, and Lynn, Lawrence & Lowell not far behind.

    While the rest of the country seems to be switching to methamphetamine, our rates of opioid addiction in Massachusetts in particular & New England as a whole just seem to be climbing.

    I know very few people who haven't at least tried opioids in a recreational manner, and know more people than I'd like that abuse or are addicted to opioids, including heroin. And I knew many people BEFORE I became an opioid addict myself, so it's not just a matter of the company I keep. ;)

    I hear random people talking about it on the bus all the time. It's like it's so normalized it's almost expected that you'd be down to get high on opioids. And I see younger & younger kids show up at the needle exchange or methadone clinic every year.

    It's sad, very sad.

  4. Unknown632
    I have one issue with this article and that's the title. They say "shot up heroin" where as it seems the question was only based on use. I Know a few people who have used heroin none of which injected the drug. They either smoked or snorted it. Many drug user's won't inject. I don't know it's a minor thing on a still worrying article. I just never like when media try's to make things seem worse for me it takes away from the actual issue.
  5. titaniumhunter
    I noticed the same point as Unknown. They state the question was "used" then they say "shot up".

    I don't believe most of what I read & hear. The same information will be used throughout the media [plural] as they get it from the same source [singular], which often can lead to the belief that its true[heard it on news, read it int the papers....].
    I know of two, docile, stray mixed breed dogs who have been sensationalized as a vicious pack of pitt-bulls roaming a section of Brooklyn mauling other dogs to near death. A pack is not two, really can't tell what the dogs are mixes of and they cross the street when they see my dogs.

    I've been to Worcester, no doubt they have a teen drug problem but I'm not basing that on what I just read.
    PS : isn't 1 in 20 4% ? and not 4.9-almost 5% ???
  6. profesor
    I have also surprised how casually teens talk about oxycontin use around here. Which is probably a little safer than heroin, although that's not much of a consolation.
    And Lynn: Lynn, Lynn the city of sin You never come out, the way you came in!
  7. Kenny7822
    I also think that percentage number is low for Worcester. I live very close to Worcester and there's drugs everywhere there. They're so easy to get.
  8. westie420uk
    Thats a scary number of young people trying smack. I would say less than 1 in a 100 young kids in my city have tried it. Using heroin is an easy way of getting your arse kicked in my city, where as 5-10 years ago it was rife.
    Heroin addicts are looked upon as the scum of the earth in England. Opiates are just not a fashionable drug to do, all the kids are taking research chemicles & smoiking weed as their DsOC.
  9. psychedelia
    I went to school in the Worcester area and my family still lives there. I think this number is slightly too high. There's a lot of drugs here, definitely, but I don't think 5% have used heroin. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are talked about openly, but not really heroin (at least in the high schools). My brother took the survey they're reporting about and apparently many kids lied for the hell of it. A scary statistic, but not too accurate in my opinion.
  10. source
    Great post, thanks! I was wondering if the young adults that filled out the survey lied with their answers. Not that every young person is the same but I remember what I was like, and I probably would have had a laugh and told a few untruths too.
    The survey was on various topics as well to try and disguise the questions about drug use - I wonder if the results for these basic questions were massively out of the ordinary too?
  11. psychedelia
    Yeah, there were some pretty random questions ("Do you wear a helmet when you go bicycling?") but the survey was definitely centered around drug use. I would expect the questions unrelated to drug use to be more accurate; teens around here love to exaggerate their drug use. People were openly talking about how they lied on the survey on Facebook afterward.

    Don't get me wrong; Worcester has some pretty high drug use but I don't think the survey was accurate. A lot of the drugs that get shipped to Boston seem to go right to Worcester as a next stop.
  12. source
    That's a shame, that the kids didn't take it seriously. I guess being kids they just don't understand how important surveys like this are sometimes in discovering the most popular and current trends to try and deal with them so fewer kids die because of their use.
    Survey or no survey it's obviously well known that Worcester has a big problem with kids using heroin, the most important thing is what the state does now to try and combat it.
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