Overview of the Mid-Atlantic region
Heroin poses one of the most significant drug threats to the Mid Atlantic, or Northeast, region of the United States, including Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Distribution and abuse of the drug are widespread and increasing significantly, particularly in suburban and rural communities.
The Northeast region is a major source for illicit drugs, primarily cocaine and heroin, for surrounding areas in the Mid-Atlantic area such as the Lower Delaware Valley, central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and northern Maryland. Cocaine, particularly crack, poses a serious drug threat in the region because of the high levels of abuse and the violence that accompanies street gang distribution of the drug. Despite declining purity and its increasing price, cocaine remains readily available in most of the region.
Heroin, principally from Mexico, continues to afflict the inner cities and is an increasing threat in the suburban communities surrounding the region, where overdose deaths are on the rise. Declining heroin purity has contributed to local abusers injecting larger doses or injecting heroin more frequently.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, the top drug of choice is now heroin. The drug’s high availability and low cost are enticing some prescription opioid abusers to make the switch to heroin. This is not to say that cocaine, crack, prescription pills, such as benzodiazepines (benzos) and painkillers and even meth are not also being abused in this part of the country.
Additionally, the abuse of heroin and controlled prescription drugs (CPDs), primarily opioids, is increasing in the Mid-Atlantic region, resulting in rising treatment admissions and overdoses. In New York’s Albany County, for instance, admissions to drug treatment programs citing heroin as the primary drug of abuse increased every year between 2007 and 2013. Over these six years, there was a 132 percent increase from 361 in 2007 to 837 in 2013, while total drug treatment admissions increased by only eleven percent.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse addiction in the Mid-Atlantic region, whetheryour drug of choice is heroin, cannabis, cocaine, prescription painkillers or alcohol, now is the time for you to think about admission to a drug treatment program. The compassionate addiction specialists at recoveryas.com will help you find the treatment program that will lead you or your loved one back to a life of sobriety. Take the first step toward a fulfilling life by calling us toll free today at 1 (877) 968-6283.
Heroin and its threat to the Northeast region
Heroin is the primary drug threat within the Mid-Atlantic region. In Maryland alone, heroin-related deaths surged 88 percent from 2011 through 2013, according to the Mid-Atlantic state’s health department. In 2013, there were 464 heroin-related overdose deaths, outnumbering 387 homicides, which represented a 95 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010. Preliminary findings for 2014 show Maryland’s heroin-related overdose deaths have continued to rise and will outpace those in 2013 by about 20 percent.
The price of heroin in the region is dropping even as purity is increasing. More addicts are turning to heroin as a cheaper alternative to powerful prescription pain killers such as OxyContin that, until recently, had been rather easy to obtain and abuse.
In New York City, deaths from heroin overdose increased 84 percent between 2010 and 2012, but the city’s suburbs and smaller communities have also been rocked by the rise in drug use. On the same day that news outlets reported actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s 2014 death, three other deaths over the span of a single week in New York’s Westchester County were attributed to heroin overdose, with all victims below the age of 30.
Their loss adds to the drug-related death toll taken by the region in the last few years, where dozens of young people have succumbed to overdoses. Similar stories are heard up and down the Atlantic seaboard. In Western Pennsylvania, 22 people died in less than two weeks from a lethal mixture of heroin and the painkiller fentanyl (see below).
In suburban and rural areas surrounding the region, abuse is increasing among teens and young adults. For example, in Ridley Park (a middle-class Philadelphia suburb), heroin distribution is widespread, and availability and abuse have increased significantly. Many distributors are targeting customers in smaller towns and rural areas, such as Hazelton, Sunbury and the Pocono Mountains area, in order to gain market share.
New York City and multiple urban centers of New Jersey have long served as distribution hubs for the northeastern United States and will continue to do so as demand for heroin grows throughout the region. Newark, with its close proximity to New York wholesale markets, maintains its status as the heroin distribution center for northern and north central New Jersey. In 2013, the city of Paterson, located in Passaic County, was found to be gaining ground on Newark in its reputation as a hub for heroin distribution for Northern New Jersey, upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
Fentanyl abuse is on the rise
In 2013 and 2014, areas throughout the Northeast reported a spike in overdose deaths due to fentanyl being sold as heroin or to heroin tainted with fentanyl. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin and can cause even experienced abusers to overdose.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate, a painkiller that has a rapid onset and a short duration of action. This means that the effects of the painkiller come on quickly and last a short time. However, Fentanyl is also approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than the drug morphine and 15 to 20 times more potent than heroin. It is most often administered in the form of a skin patch, lozenge or film that dissolves in the mouth of the user. It can also be used intravenously.
Since Fentanyl is much more potent than heroin and has such a quick and intense “high”, many heroin addicts overdose because they use too much in a short period of time, thinking the substance they are ingesting is heroin only. This is causing widespread heroin overdoses, especially in the Northeast.
In early 2014, a rash of fatal and non-fatal heroin overdoses were reported in New Jersey and surrounding states, reaching north to Massachusetts and south to Maryland. In some cases, reports
indicated that the overdoses were caused by heroin cut with fentanyl, while other reports cited pure fentanyl (with no heroin present) as the substance in question. Several of the affected jurisdictions reported that the tainted heroin/fentanyl may have originated in northern New Jersey.
Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs)
The threat posed by the misuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs), particularly prescription opioids, increased substantially across the region in the past decade, as evidenced by increases in negative health outcomes and increased diversion and availability. However, many Mid-Atlantic counties have recently experienced a leveling off or decrease in prescription opioid-involved overdose deaths and admissions to drug treatment for prescription opioid abuse.
Cocaine/Crack are still a threat to the Northeast
Available law enforcement information and public health indicators suggest that cocaine and crack remain a persistent threat in New York and New Jersey, and that crack cocaine is the drug most commonly associated with violent crime. However, these data also indicate that the availability and abuse of both powder and crack cocaine have declined in recent years. Philadelphia has become one of the most prominent cocaine markets in the eastern United States.
In Pennsylvania, treatment admission data show a variance between the city and suburban treatment seekers, with Philadelphia reporting most seeking treatment for cocaine, while Camden, Chester and Delaware Counties report more seeking treatment for heroin and other opiates, presumably prescription drugs.
Both powder and crack forms of cocaine are available throughout the Northeast area. In New Jersey, availability is greater in urban areas that serve as distribution markets. The trafficking and abuse of cocaine and crack cocaine will likely remain at a diminished level compared to a decade ago, but cocaine and crack cocaine will still play significant roles in DTO activity.
Marijuana/Cannabis laws are slowly changing
Availability and abuse of marijuana has remained stable in the Mid-Atlantic region in recent years. Commercial-grade Mexican marijuana remains the most widely used and abused illicit drug in the Philadelphia and Camden areas. The availability of domestically-produced high-grade and higher priced marijuana appears to be increasing.
As of June 2015, New York has decriminalized cannabis to some degree and Delaware lawmakers are considering the same action. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation. No medical marijuana laws have been enacted in New York and Delaware.
Since February 2015, recreational cannabis has been legal in Washington, D.C. Pennsylvania law still makes it a crime to possess or sell marijuana for both recreational and medical use. New Jersey has enacted medical marijuana laws, but the possession and sale of it for recreational use are still illegal. Seventeen bills regarding marijuana have been introduced in Maryland in the first half of 2015. During the last recent legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed both a decriminalization bill as well as furthered the reach of an existing medical marijuana bill.
Methamphetamine (Meth) not currently a threat to the Northeast
There is a fairly low presence of methamphetamine in the Mid-Atlantic region, largely concentrated in the southern and northwestern areas of New Jersey and in sections of upstate New York.
There has been a dramatic increase in raids of clandestine meth labs in Western New York and across the state. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that in 2014, there were 225 methamphetamine labs dismantled by law enforcement with 34 in Western New York.
Other Illicit Drugs
Other dangerous drugs, such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), MDMA and PCP (phencyclidine) are available and abused to varying degrees within the Mid-Atlantic region, mainly by teens and young adults. In Camden, New Jersey, PCP is growing in popularity among young males and females, particularly in the Landsdale area. According to law enforcement officials, PCP available in the region is less expensive than crack cocaine and the effects last longer.
MDMA has been encountered on a limited to moderate basis in New York. The availability and abuse of bath salts and synthetic marijuana in New York State rose considerably in 2012, but there seems to have been a substantial decrease in 2013.
Alcohol is still popular in Washington, D.C.
The rate of past month alcohol use for people aged 12 or older in 2013 in the Northeast was 58 percent.
The rate of binge drinking in this region was 23.8 percent.
The national past-month heavy alcohol use among adults in 2012 was 6.9 percent compared to 10.3 percent in the District of Columbia. Conversely, Maryland was markedly lower than the national averageat 4.6 percent.
How to get help for addiction in the Northeast
We at recoveryas.com understand the difficulties in finding the right treatment program in the Northeast for someone suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Give us a toll-free call at 1 (877) 968-6283 today. Recoveryas.com will help you choose the treatment program that will get you or a loved one on the road to sobriety and good mental health.
If your insurance coverage is with one of the following companies, recoveryas.com will assist you in finding the help you need. We can work with any PPO coverage and also offer affordable self-pay and financing options for addiction treatment.
Recoveryas.com will never charge you a fee for our placement services, so call 1 (877) 968-6283 now to speak with one of our caring addiction specialists about treatment options in the Mid-Atlantic region.
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