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The Dangerous Rise of Opioids & Heroin in Cape Cod

The Dangerous Rise of Opioids & Heroin in Cape Cod

Known as a popular vacation destination for Bostonians and people across New England, Cape Cod is a summertime hot spot for sail boating, the beach, seafood, and in more recent years, heroin.

The United States as a whole has been struggling with the opioid epidemic, and with the rise in drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids, this scenic peninsula is no different.

How Cape Cod Heroin Use Compares

Massachusetts itself has been affected by the opioid epidemic in large numbers. While about 70% of overdose deaths in 2018 involved opioids across the nation, in Massachusetts this number increased to 88%.1 While the use of synthetic heroin has been on the rise in The Bay State, heroin was responsible for 475 overdose deaths in 2018 alone.1

Many of these opioid and heroin problems seem to be coming from Barnstable County, home of Cape Cod. Barnstable County had one of the highest overdose rates in the country in 2013 and 2014 with more than 20 per 1,000 people dying of drug overdose.2 A large portion of these deaths can be attributed to heroin, but may have started with prescription painkillers. In 2012, Cape Cod had an opiate prescription rate that was 24% higher than the state average, and although these rates have since declined, their effects may still be showing.3 As restrictions on filling these prescriptions increased, those who became addicted to these prescription drugs had to look elsewhere for their same high. Instead of getting opiate addiction treatment, they may have turned to heroin to get their fix. In fact, most heroin users start out by abusing prescription painkillers. While there is evidence to suggest that the number of heroin and opioid overdose deaths in Cape Cod is starting to decrease, this summertime paradise has a long way to go.

Combating the Opioid Epidemic in Cape Cod

Combating these issues is far from easy. The problems associated with opioids and heroin in Cape Cod cannot go away overnight. The state, county, and community need to make an effort to continue to decrease these numbers.

In 2016, the state launched a prescription monitoring program designed to track the use of prescription drugs by patients so that problematic doctor shopping could be more easily spotted. This program will likely help catch people who are abusing opioids early before a serious addiction develops, but for those who are already addicted, this is not enough. Without access to prescription painkillers and if they neglect to get prescription drug addiction treatment, they could turn to heroin or other strong opioids that are sold illegally on the street.

Some public officials cite the increased availability of naloxone, a life-save drug that reverses opioid overdoses, as a factor in helping to combat the number of overdose deaths. They hope to continue teaching citizens how to administer naloxone safely for even greater success. Along with preventing more overdoses, people who are struggling should be encouraged to get help so that they can quit for good. Our drug treatment in Boston helps people from these areas struggling with heroin and opioid addictions quit this addiction for good.

At Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts, we want to see you and your loved one safe. If you or someone you care about have a substance abuse problem, do not wait to get help. For more information about our programs, reach out to us now at 888-280-4763.



  1. NIH - Massachusetts: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms
  2. Cape Cod Times - US Drug Overdose Deaths
  3. Cape Cod Times - Drug overdoses down but 'activity of concern' high on Cape
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
The Dangerous Rise of Opioids & Heroin in Cape Cod
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