Revised November 2013
Greater Boston Patterns and Trends in Drug Abuse: 2012
Daniel P. Dooley
Summary of Key Findings for the 2012 Reporting Period:
- Cocaine indicators were decreasing in 2012 but remained at high levels of abuse.
- High and increasing levels of heroin abuse.
As a proportion of unique client primary drug treatment admissions, cocaine (including crack) decreased steadily, from 13 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2012. Additionally, 29 percent of all unique treatment clients identified cocaine (including crack) as a primary, secondary, or tertiary drug in 2012, compared with 32 percent in 2010 and 40 percent in 2006. The proportion of Class B drug arrests (mainly cocaine) decreased, from 49 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2012, and the proportion of cocaine reports among drug items analyzed by the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) laboratories decreased from 24 percent of the total in 2010 to 22 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2012.
Heroin abuse indicators for 2012 were increasing at already high levels. The proportion of unique client primary heroin treatment admissions increased from 37 percent in 2010, to 40 percent in 2011, and to 42 percent in 2012. The proportion of Class A drug arrests (mainly heroin) increased from 22 percent in 2009 and 2010, to 25 percent in 2011, to 28 percent in 2012. From 2010 to 2012, the proportion of heroin drug reports among drug items analyzed by NFLIS laboratories increased, from 13 to 18 percent.
Indicators for other opioids were mixed at moderate levels. In 2012, 12 percent of all unique treatment clients identified other opioids as primary, secondary, or tertiary drugs, slightly less than the 14 percent in 2010 and 2011. The proportion of NFLIS drug reports identified as oxycodone among analyzed drug items increased from 8 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2011, but they decreased to 8 percent in 2012.
Benzodiazepine abuse indicators were mixed (some were increasing and some were stable) at moderate levels in 2012. The proportion of unique treatment clients citing benzodiazepines as either primary, secondary, or tertiary drugs of abuse increased, from 9 to 14 percent from 2007 to 2012. Together, clonazepam, alprazolam, diazepam and lorazepam accounted for 4 percent of all reports among drug items analyzed by NFLIS laboratories in the Boston area in 2012.
Marijuana indicators were mixed at moderate levels in 2012. The proportion of unique clients citing marijuana as a primary, secondary, or tertiary drug decreased steadily from 23 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2012. From 2010 to 2011, the proportion of Class D drug arrests (mainly marijuana) decreased from 21 to 18 percent and remained at 18 percent in 2012. The proportion of marijuana/cannabis drug reports among items seized and analyzed in NFLIS laboratories increased slightly from 23 percent in 2011 to 27 percent in 2012.
Methamphetamine and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) indicators remained relatively low overall in Boston (below 1 percent for all available data sources) in 2012.