Luke Swetland


Currently Massachusetts is dealing with a major heroin epidemic that is affecting thousands of people across our state. This epidemic has many factors that have caused this, but I wanted to know why are people turning to heroin at an alarming rate?
I decided to go to the Gloucester Police Department to see why their program on dealing with heroin is so successful. I talked with Lieutenant (Lt.) David Quinn on his thoughts of what is causing the epidemic and what can be done about it. The Lt. told me that what’s causing this epidemic is a slue of problems. One reason according to the Lt. is that doctors are over prescribing of

painkillers. He explained that people who get injured or need surgery will have painkillers prescribed like opioids. Eventually if the person becomes hooked on the painkillers, they need to continue the high. However, opioids are expensive. They can’t afford them, so they turn to heroin due to the cheap cost. David explained it to me like this, “If someone offered you straight heroin you would refuse. But if someone offered you a painkiller that a doctor prescribed, you might take it.” The reason in my opinion behind this is that something that comes from a doctor tends to be more trustworthy.
I then asked who this epidemic is hitting the hardest. The truth is there is no one major ethnic or socio-economic class that is being hit hardest. All people from all different backgrounds are being hit. “Heroin isn’t racist.” Heroin is affecting all of us in Massachusetts. But the vast majority of people who use heroin in Massachusetts are white men. Nowadays the old stereotype of a “junkie” just isn’t true anymore. Many people who are addicted have jobs, families, and careers. They just have made mistakes in their lives. All these people need is help. Whether that be mental, medical, economical, or countless other reasons, all people who are addicted need help.
By this point if you still think that heroin isn’t affecting Ipswich then you are wrong. I then talked to a student at Ipswich High School who was willing to talk about her experiences with heroin in her family. The student told me that her cousin started on less harsh drugs and then moved to heroin. The cousin is from an upper middle class family with good social standings. To help pay for the heroin the cousin has had to steal from her family to pay for the drugs and has torn her family apart. The family has tried to get her help but nothing has worked. The student told me, “Heroin doesn’t discriminate, and it sucks.”
Heroin: It’s a very long and painful plague in Massachusetts. How do we solve it? The answer is too long to fit in this article, but what can be done is to stop the opioid epidemic and then maybe we can slow the heroin epidemic. Governor Charlie Baker just signed a law that would limit prescription painkillers. This law is limiting the amount of painkillers a doctor can prescribe to a patient. Hopefully this measure will help people from turning to heroin when they can not afford opioids. We as a society can also destigmatizing drug users because they are not bad people they have made bad choices. What could also help is having an easier access to mental health for people. This way we can identify who needs help and get them it.