As the home of Plymouth Rock, the site of the Pilgrim landing, Massachusetts is known for its rich history. From Salem’s witch trials to the Freedom Trail tour of historic sites running through the heart of Boston, the Bay State offers a unique opportunity for visitors to relive history.

Nature lovers will also find Massachusetts’ miles of coastline a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of this densely populated state. Further inland, Massachusetts boasts over 280,000 acres of state forests and parks, making it the eighth most-forested state in the nation.

Addiction By The Numbers In Massachusetts

Despite its deep historical roots and scenic backdrop, Massachusetts is struggling with an addiction epidemic. The National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health found that in 2014, just over 13 percent of Massachusetts residents ages 12 and older had used an illegal drug in the prior month. This number is higher than the national average.

According to data collected by the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services during drug rehab intakes in 2015, opioids were responsible for most admissions, closely followed by alcohol.

Primary substances of use cited by patients during admission to Massachusetts drug rehabs:

  • Opioids: 58 percent
  • Alcohol: 33 percent
  • Marijuana: 5 percent
  • Other: 4 percent

The Opioid Epidemic In Massachusetts

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Massachusetts is one of the top 10 states most crippled by the opioid epidemic. Heroin-related hospital visits in Massachusetts increased 256 percent from 2011 to 2015.

However, the demand for heroin in Massachusetts didn’t spring up overnight. Like many other states across the country, it started with prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Between 1999 and 2010, Massachusetts saw a six-fold increase in deaths from prescription opioids, a rate that mirrored national trends at the time.

It wasn’t until 2010 that the state saw heroin rise in popularity, outpacing national heroin overdose death rates and claiming lives even faster than prescription drugs. Today, the growing demand for heroin seems to have reenergized the once-declining demand for prescription opioids in Massachusetts, bringing with it two new and dangerous trends.

According to death certificates in the state, a growing number of people are overdosing on a mixture of heroin and other opioids, primarily synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Additionally, the victims of the opioid epidemic ravaging Massachusetts are trending younger. According to The Boston Globe, in 2014 the bulk of prescription overdose deaths in the state involved people ages 25 to 34.


The new culprit behind Massachusetts’ increasingly devastating opioid epidemic is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s available by prescription but is more often found illicitly. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Toxicology reports from recent post-mortem cases in Massachusetts indicate that fentanyl appeared in over 60 percent of the toxicology samples in 2015. Of the 1,775 opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2017, fentanyl was found in 85 percent of the available toxicology reports.

Massachusetts’ Efforts To Combat Addiction

Massachusetts has established a number of programs to help combat the opioid epidemic and the rising number of overdose deaths in the state, including:

Ending Stigma

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched the State Without StigMA to encourage people to rethink the way they perceive addiction and people with addiction. The goal is to decrease shame associated with the disease and create a more compassionate environment where residents feel comfortable asking for help.

Promoting The Good Samaritan Law

Making The Right Call is a Massachusetts campaign raising awareness of the state’s Good Samaritan Law. The law ensures that a person won’t be charged with possession of a controlled substance if they call 911 to report an overdose.

Prescription Drug Training And Monitoring

The Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool helps pharmacists and doctors better monitor active opioid prescriptions. Additionally, Massachusetts now offers improved resources to medical and dental schools to train students on how to prevent opioid misuse and addiction in patients.

Declaring The Opioid Crisis A State Emergency

Massachusetts is currently one of eight states that have declared the opioid epidemic a state emergency. This directive banned high-dose opioids, developed a plan for prescription monitoring, expanded access to the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan) and allocated funds for treatment.

Addiction Treatment Programs In Massachusetts

Effective addiction treatment is available in Massachusetts to help those struggling with addiction to achieve long-term recovery and live fulfilling lives in sobriety.

Massachusetts Drug And Alcohol Detox

The detox process helps the body rid itself of drugs and alcohol. Detoxification can be uncomfortable and life-threatening if the withdrawal symptoms are not monitored and treated by a doctor or appropriate medical staff.

Medically assisted detox programs offer support and supervision at hospitals and inpatient addiction treatment facilities across Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab programs offer a safe and supportive environment to recover from addiction. Clients of inpatient drug rehabs live on campus and engage in individual behavioral therapies and group activities.

Some inpatient drug and alcohol rehabs in Massachusetts offer specialized care, such as dual-diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, trauma grounding, and medication-assisted treatment. Clients should choose a facility based on their individual needs.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts

After attending therapy for the day, those participating in an outpatient drug rehab program return home or to a sober living facility in the evenings. This type of program is beneficial for those who have completed an inpatient drug rehab program but are looking for continued care and support.

Sober Living

Sober living facilities are a great place for those in early recovery to continue their sobriety journey after addiction treatment. Massachusetts sober living houses offer residents a drug- and alcohol-free environment surrounded by other individuals who are also focused on recovery from addiction. While staying at a sober living house, random drug testing may occur and residents are required to follow the house rules.

Aftercare Programs

Participating in an aftercare program can be helpful for those looking to maintain long-term recovery. These types of services may include long-term case management, group meetings, group social events, 24/7 call support and more.

Types Of Therapies Used In Addiction Treatment

Effective addiction treatment addresses the needs of the whole person, not just the symptoms of their disease. To do this, clients might participate in a number of different treatment modalities common in Massachusetts drug or alcohol rehab. Those seeking addiction treatment may participate in:

In addition to these traditional therapies, drug rehab centers are incorporating more holistic treatment methods into their programming. Those struggling with addiction may benefit from trying:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Adventure therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Journaling
  • Equine therapy
  • Art therapy

Each treatment modality comes with a unique set of benefits that will vary from person to person. It’s up to a client and their treatment team to work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan that will work best for the individual.

Length Of Treatment

The length of treatment for those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction in Massachusetts varies based on the individual’s needs. While most treatment centers offer programs lasting 30, 60 or 90 days, others offer programs that last for a full year.

To decide how long a client should be in treatment, the following factors should be evaluated:

  • Severity of addiction
  • How long the person has been addicted
  • How quickly they are progressing in treatment

While there is no predetermined length of time for addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that programs lasting 90 days or longer are the most effective. Additionally, keeping clients engaged in their recovery is essential to long-term success in sobriety.

How To Pay For Treatment

The cost of addiction treatment is often a significant barrier to getting help for a substance use disorder. Fortunately, there are many ways to pay for the treatment that can lead to a healthy, sober life.


Insurance may cover some treatment programs in Massachusetts. While private health insurance will likely cover mental health and addiction treatment at a better rate than state-funded insurance programs, most addiction treatment centers in the state are required to accept MassHealth. Out-of-pocket costs for treatment will vary based on the insurance provider.


Many addiction treatment centers will help clients secure a private loan to pay for treatment. They may also set up a payment plan to give clients more time to pay for their treatment.

State-Funded Addiction Treatment Programs In Massachusetts

Massachusetts allocates funds to different treatment centers across the state to give people the opportunity to receive treatment for free if needed. For those seeking help but who do not have the funds to do so, a state-funded treatment program might be an option.

Traveling For Addiction Treatment

When a person seeks to recover from addiction, the best treatment facility for their unique needs might not be in their hometown or even their home state. However, traveling for treatment comes with benefits like:

  • Better quality of care
  • Greater privacy
  • Improved focus on therapy
  • Decreased environmental triggers

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and needs help, Vertava Health is ready to take your call. Our team of effective, compassionate treatment specialists can help find the right treatment facility for you or your loved one—wherever you are, 24/7.

Help in Massachusetts

Nestled in the quiet New England town of Cummington, Massachusetts sits Vertava Health Massachusetts.

Here patients receive treatment for their addiction as well as for the behaviors that underlie substance abuse. Any medical or mental health complications that could lead to relapse are also addressed. This multi-pronged approach to addiction treatment provides patients with the best chance of returning to a healthy, balanced life after residential drug rehab.

We understand that addiction is not a one-size-fits-all disease, and neither is recovery. While staying at this serene mountain retreat, patients will receive an individualized treatment plan created by a team of licensed therapists and clinicians that best fits their needs.

Through alternative modalities and evidence-based psychotherapies, we empower each patient to find their sense of purpose and go on to live a fulfilling life in recovery.