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A Sad Statistic

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Vernon Wiley

There are a lot of things to be proud of here in New England, but a new statistic released by the Boston Globe is certainly not one of them.

New figures from the federal government show that Massachusetts has three times the number of opiate addicted babies born each year than the national average. Nationally the number of babies born with drugs in their system is five out of every 1,000 births. In Mass, it’s 17.5 out of every 1,000. That’s nearly 1,300 babies a year! A very scary number!

Equally scary is that according to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts claims only 128 babies were born with drugs in their system, raising questions about Massachusetts’ counting method.

But this new report also has researchers looking into the reasons why the number of opiate dependent babies is so much higher across New England as a whole. Theories range from overprescribing by doctors and drug dealers in major urban areas recognizing untapped markets, to a lack of detox beds and treatment programs.

On a positive note, Governor Deval Patrick recently declared opiate abuse as a public health emergency and has created an opioid task force aimed at strengthening substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services.

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