BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — A new health report finds that violence in Massachusetts is decreasing, but drug abuse in on the rise. The Massachusetts Health Council reports that violent crimes have gone down in the state by 8.5 percent from 2010 to 2011. Though the Council says Massachusetts remains the most violent state in the Northeast, they’re seeing significant decreases in violent crime in cities like Springfield, which advocates attribute to action taken in those cities.
“These major cities have taken very specific and broad action, putting together community coalitions to prevent violence,” said Mass Health Council Executive Director Susan Servais.
Substance abuse however is on the rise. The Council reports Eastern Massachusetts has the highest rate of urban drug-related emergency room visits in the country. Worcester has lifetime heroin addicts double the national average. Advocates say there’s a growing problem stemming from the bathroom medicine chest.
“Youth are getting into the medicine cabinets and maybe even be getting prescribed opiates themselves,” said Worcester Dept of Public Health Coordinator Karyn Johnson. “We feel that there’s a strong connection between prescription drug use and then there’s this leap over to heroin.”
Advocates noted that Massachusetts has a Good Samaritan law so if you are in the company of anyone who is overdosing on drugs, you should call 911 and you will be safe from being arrested or prosecuted.
For the first time, the Council is also tracking oral health and has found a troubling number of 2 to 8 year-olds suffering from dental decay and tooth loss.
“There are many communities in Western Mass that don’t have community water fluoridation and that is the most cost effective public health measure to prevent dental decay,” said Better Oral Health for Massachusetts Coalition Chairperson Catherine Hayes.
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