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Massachusetts Communities Struggle With Epidemic of Substance Abuse, Report Finds

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A report by a nonprofit group concludes communities across Massachusetts are struggling with an epidemic of substance abuse. The report notes the Boston area has had a particularly high number of emergency department visits involving illicit drugs.

The Massachusetts Health Council report cites a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that found in 2009, the Boston region ranked first among major metropolitan areas in emergency department visits involving illicit drugs.

Massachusetts Deval Patrick called the report worrisome, according to the Associated Press. He said part of the problem was the easy availability of potent heroin.

The report also found tobacco is taking a toll on the state. Almost 9,000 residents die annually from the effects of smoking. Tobacco products account for about one-third of all cancer deaths in Massachusetts, the report concluded.

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