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Boston-area ranks first in nation for drug-related emergency room visits

A report released today by the Massachusetts Health Commission ranks Eastern Massachusetts as the first in the nation for drug-related emergency room visits, and said that substance abuse - especially heroin use - is on the rise.

A report released today by the Massachusetts Health Council ranks the Greater Boston Area as having the most drug-related emergency room visits in the nation in 2011, about four times as high as metropolises like New York City, Chicago, and Detroit.

The region also ranked first at a rate of four times the national average among metropolitan regions for emergency room visits involving heroin.

That drug posed a particular problem in Worcester last year, according to the report, which said that lifetime heroin use was twice the state and national average.

The South Shore saw high reports of overdoses, with one person dying from them every eight days last year.

"The 2012 report confirms a clear connection between each of these preventable health statistics and the affect they have on the state as a whole," Susan Servais, executive director of the Massachusetts Health Council, said in statement. "We need to recommit ourselves to prevention policies if we hope to limit these devastating diseases. The trends show persistent health disparities between the poor and those of greater economic means and between racial and ethnically diverse populations. Public officials and health advocates have a responsibility to address these issues and help ensure better health quality for all our residents."

On a positive note, the report indicated that violent crimes were down dramatically last year from 2010, by as much as 8.5 percent.

Murder was down 13.6 percent, forcible rape was down 8.7 percent, and aggravated assault was down 10.1 percent. While the Bay State remains the most violent state in New England, with 428 violent crimes per 100,000 people, there have been significant decreases in violent crimes, especially in Boston which is down by 10 percent, Lowell which is down by 33 percent, and Springfield which is down by 24 percent.

 
 
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