Hey, there! Log in / Register

Taking a walk along Methadone Mile

A WBUR reporter takes us on a tour of Mass. Ave. in the area of Melnea Cass Boulevard.

As Pardini walks down the street, he explains the debris along the pavement.

"There's a cap from a needle. That's an empty heroin bag right there," Pardini says, while warning me to avoid the discarded needles at our feet.

Vice, meanwhile, takes us inside the Spot, a new location where Methadone Mile addicts can go and be monitored while they're under the influence.

Neighborhoods: 

Ad:

Comments

Have you been to the Heroin Hub?

It is the entire area of Downtown Crossing!

Park Street and the Common too!

Drug activity is rampant all over downtown and you know what is being done about it?

Nothing. They are ignored unless they are overdosing. There is obvious drug dealing, buying and using going on and the police turn a blind eye. There should be a zero tolerance in places like along the Freedom Trail or at the Irish Famine memorial and other historic spots where families are bringing their kids but there isn't. It's pathetic.

The police have something called probable cause. They can stop and search someone if they are doing something suspicious and I would call being on drugs, buying drugs, selling drugs, being loud, violent, aggressive, sleeping face down on the sidewalk.... suspicious.

Wouldn't you? It's bullshit frankly and it feels as if they have more rights than the people who don't do drugs, who work all day, who want to keep their kids safe.

I don't give a shit if it's an epidemic and they are overwhelmed. I want to SEE them being overwhelmed then. All I see is the authorities largely ignoring a huge problem until someone is literally dying or is trying to kill someone else.

Until the police take a ZERO tolerance attitude towards the dealers and the buyers then it will go on and on. They feel they can do whatever they want downtown and in the park with no consequences.

End rant.

up
Voting closed 0

between the addicts and the Children International fundraisers in DTX, I'll take the junkies any day.

up
Voting closed 0

Until your ass get robbed at disease infested hypodermic needle point. Then I'm sure you wish you could have just paid the 2 dollars for the candy bar..

up
Voting closed 0

Please cite police reports and statistics when emitting hyperbole.

up
Voting closed 0

I volunteer at a shelter and always can point out the shady, drug-dealing characters out front. Mahty only cares if it'll affect the development of a new building or his foreign friends. Such a sad state we live in..

up
Voting closed 0

the war on drugs has been so effective thus far, i'm sure more arrests are just what we need. i agree, that downtown is a haven for junkies, but the last 40 years have shown us that we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem.

up
Voting closed 0

When it comes to MJ but Heroin is a completely different animal. You can not let the dealers and buyers literally take over the public spaces. There has to be some accountability.

You also can't ignore a problem and hope it goes away. There are laws against dealing, violence, public intoxication, making threats and more.

If you are saying you can't arrest your way out of the drug problem so throw out the laws completely then sorry I disagree.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, the laws need to be enforced, especially when it comes to violent behaviors. No arguments there. but it can't stop there. we need to stop big pharma from pumping out these super pain killers that people cannot handle - these drugs are directly linked to the surge in heroin, people turn to smack when they can't get the pills they shouldn't have been prescribed in the first place. and jail doesn't stop an addict long term, especially when they get out and have worse prospects than before being incarcerated. something must be done, but the current system is broken and doesn't break the cycle at all.

up
Voting closed 0

"shouldn't have been prescribed in the first place".

How do you know? I've been prescribed opiates before post surgery and didn't get addicted. Blaming big pharma is not the answer. That Gloucester police chief was wrong, in my opinion to publish the names and addresses of pharma execs. It feels good to be able to place blame, and it makes for great excuses.

Not sure about you, but I sure appreciated those after wisdom teeth removal and again for a day surgery procedure.

Patricia

up
Voting closed 0

there is a level of personal responsibility for the users, no doubt, but opiate pain killers are dangerously strong. of course they work wonders in the immediate aftermath of injuries, but so does advil. the pharma companies are in an arms race to make the most potent pain pills they can, and they have taken it too far.

your anecdotal evidence is just that - an anecdote. the sheer number of people who have taken these meds and gotten addicted speaks volumes. some people can handle them, a lot of others can't.

up
Voting closed 0

I agree with everything you are saying. However, do not compare Advil (in any dose) to Opiates (of any kind). It makes you sound like a naive idiot and your point is then lost. They are night and day different. It's like saying, "sure flying first class to California is convienent, but so is hitch-hiking there"

Some people can handle booze(me) others cannot (Mayor Walsh). The rate of addiction with opiates is high, probably because they feel AMAZING. I have been prescribed opiates for pain before and not gotten hooked, some of my friends have fallen into the trap and become addicted. You honestly never know. Pharma is not the problem, HACK DOCTORS are. There are too many doctors who just want to prescribe problems away. taking opiates off the table as painkillers is retarded. They've been used since before mankind had the ability to write about it, a gift from the gods some say. Also, Opium, Morphine, and even Heroin are child's play compared to the shit they are cooking up in Big Pharma's labs every year in terms of potency. People are ODing from what they CUT the heroin with these days, not the heroin itself.

up
Voting closed 0

This:

Opium, Morphine, and even Heroin are child's play compared to the shit they are cooking up in Big Pharma's labs every year in terms of potency. People are ODing from what they CUT the heroin with these days, not the heroin itself.

is something that I strongly take issue with, Marco. First of all, Opium, Morphine, and especially Heroin, do a ton of harm, both physically and emotionally to the user. Heroin is especially bad, due to its addictive qualities and the side affects (i. e. loss of appetite and constipation), and the chances of winding up with AIDS or hepatitis due to unclean needles, plus Heroin causes edema (swelling) of the lungs, which can help make a user more susceptible to lung ailments such as pneumonia and TB. Also, it's sheer hell when the heroin addict is unable to get a fix--the withdrawal symptoms are horrific, and people have died going "cold turkey" from it.

I'll also add that Heroin actually crosses the blood-brain barrier. The molecular structure of Heroin is such that it fits right into the pleasure receptors of the brain, like a hand in glove, which is why people get so 'hooked" on Heroin.

Moreover, the reason that people go out, steal and rob or whatever, in order to obtain Heroin, is because it's very expensive, and it's illegal, to boot.

Also, while Heroin is cut with different things, such as quinine, for example, the Heroin comes in different strengths. People do die of heroin overdoses, if they chance to get a batch of Heroin that's too pure, resulting in respiratory failure if they don't get help quickly. It's extremely difficult to know what one may be getting, to boot.

Having said all of the above, I know people who've gone on Heroin, gotten totally messed up as a result, and/or have even ended up serving jail sentences for having stolen stuff, or whatever, in order to obtain Heroin. , plus I've done some research on it, to boot.

up
Voting closed 0

Just so I understand your perspective, you think that out of everyone ever prescribed opiates more people have become addicts than those like me, just take what I was given.
(most times I don't even take them past the first dosage).

No, can't agree.

Personal responsibility is a huge thing, yes. But once an addict personal responsibility goes out the window. But shifting the blame is the easy way out.

Medical facilities need better controls on who's getting what. My daughter sees people pill shopping every single day and they are not the most polite people when refused. Her patience and other staff patience only goes so far.

I hope the big pharma companies keep doing what they're doing. I've been putting off a surgery due to the painful recovery. When my time comes and I need it, I best have my pills by my side because I'm going to need them. (When the doctor stresses how difficult this recovery will be, I'll take his word for it). I certainly hope you're not in charge of things then :)

up
Voting closed 0

No, more people have not gotten addicted than those who have. that said, the societal toll for addiction caused by these pills is greater than the (relative) short term pain these medicines were created to treat.

treating pain with these medicines is like putting a thumbtack in a cork board with a sledge hammer. just because it works doesn't mean it is smart or necessary. we are fare more resilient than we give ourselves credit for, but as a society we're more interested in the quickest fix and it usually ends up boning us.

up
Voting closed 0

Right. Nor can we stop the pharmaceutical companies to stop churning out the opiods nor can we stop "doing business" with the countries that farm the poppies where the heroin comes from. There's money to be made by these grim reapers off of addicts. That's not helping the addict who wants totry to STAY clean. The shit is justway too available!

up
Voting closed 0

in cutting off aid to these countries where the poppies that Heroin is derived from, but a big part of the solution is ending the demand for Heroin in the first place. Only by changing society will that happen.

up
Voting closed 0

engage the community, write tickets, haul people into jail, and do paperwork. Who wants to do that? You know whats WAAAAAY better? Standing next to a hole in the ground NOT directing traffic and staring down at your smartphone collecting overtime paychecks. End of the month is the only time you'll see cops doing anything because they need to fulfill their quotas. Other than that it's ride that easy street train to pension-ville.
You want these guys to INVESTIGATE shit? Do real police work? hahahahahahaha

up
Voting closed 0

As many of the individuals you describe are quite possibly homeless, the right to go someplace comfortable at the end of the day may not be among the privileges they enjoy. Unfortunately a lot of these people are slaves to opiates. It is sad, and I feel bad for them. I thank God every day that when I was younger and stupider I never tried heroin. We need more and better treatment facilities, in my opinion. Imprisoning more people won't help much. I think the police realize this, and frankly don't know what to do.

up
Voting closed 0

It really depends how you look at things. When you view it only as an illness, then the afflicted person has no power to change it. If you view it only as a crime then you can't heal the physical damage caused by the drug use.

I have worked with homeless people, and the biggest challenge is to stop imposing my standard of living on them. You start out believing that everyone wants to live in a nice home and eat healthy food because it's obvious right? But these simple things involve effort and responsibility that we don't even notice because we are so used to it.

Everyone wants to be comfortable, that is true. But I have met people that for a unknowable reasons, do not want to do literally any simple thing (like come inside) to accomplish this. The only thing you can do is stop judging it and focus on what you would like to accomplish.

Basically, I don't want to live in a place where people die in the street. So I am willing to subsidize shelter and services for people who will use it. I don't care whether they "deserve" help or not. If an addict will accept help and change then I want the way open for them. But I don't feel sorry for these people, because moral judgement is fake and useless in this situation.

up
Voting closed 0

My kids are teens in BPS high schools and even they don't want to go near Downtown Crossing or the Commons because of the repulsive and scary behavior of the addicts. The users and dealers loiter in front of stores and skulk around inside them as if they are scoping for an unsuspecting easy target to steal a wallet or bag from. My family constantly worries about elderly mother who lives nearby and uses shops downtown because its her neighborhood.

And I am sick of hearing the whole "addicts are nice people" thing. No, they may have BEEN nice people, but while they are actively using they are like soulless ghouls that will rob and kill for their next fix. Normal everyday citizens are held hostage by them and the dealers, and its not right.

My only hope is that there is some plan in the works to deal with this and it will eventually get cleaned up, not just in the hot-spots, but all over the city. Please, there has to be, right??

up
Voting closed 0

Kids have never been to Primark?

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, been there and Forever 21 and all that. Still dislike the area and would prefer to go somewhere else. The worry about grandma wandering around there is what makes it worse. They can take care of themselves but its the worry about people you love that makes the disdain much worse.

up
Voting closed 0

They are policing the area near the Burger King; one night this week there were two police vehicles parked near it and a policeman was actually monitoring the rest room there. No one hanging around outside now.

up
Voting closed 0

If someone's high they're no longer holding any drugs. Also, the courts can't seem to be bothered with simple personal-use possession charges, either.

up
Voting closed 0

It's a shit show in DTX.

Did you know there's a sharps box for needle disposal in the woman's restroom at Primark? I don't believe it's there for diabetics.

People are doing the heroin nod all over Washington and Winter Streets, and on the subway platforms. I've seen a couple using the bathroom at Espresso Love on Broad St to do drugs. Once went to use bathroom at Boston Common Coffee and found a guy passed out on the floor.

I don't believe the heroin epidemic stems from prescription opioids, I think it stems from inequality. There's a housing crisis, people are homeless and feel hopeless.

City Council asked Marty to put 5 million in the budget for 400 apartments for the homeless, and he didn't do it.

up
Voting closed 0

The majority of addicts in the methadone mile area are kids from the suburbs, not Boston natives. If they are homeless its because they don't want to "waste" money on rent, and that would require holding a job, which they are incapable of. I'm not saying this is everyone, of course. And I do agree that there's a housing crisis, I just don't think its related to this epidemic. I believe the problem is the method of treatment, they need to detox, methadone is just a band-aid. They come to Boston because its easier for the lifestyle they want, pan handling, free place to sleep, free cellphone, food stamps, free needles, its all in Newmarket Square!

up
Voting closed 0

there are plenty of kids who are Boston natives who end up getting hooked on Heroin and things like that, also. South Boston, for example, has a huge heroin problem, as do other parts of the city.

up
Voting closed 0

For once, I agree. I worked on a contract job in Downtown Crossing last summer and it was absolutely unbelievable. I hadn't worked down there in a few years and the difference even between 2011 and 2015 was staggering. The area outside the big CVS across from the Downtown Crossing T-stop became a homeless encampment. People would literally shoot up right in front of you. I;'d see some of the same people in the same groups day after day and when I didn't see one person I worried they had OD'd. There was an alleyway visible out of my office window where I regularly saw people shoot up. One time during lunch hour we saw three junkies get into a fistfight. I wondered how that area possibly attracts new residents with "luxury condos" with nodding-off junkies right outside their doorsteps. The disparity in that area is amazing. And there were also a ton of cop cars that would drive right through the area and do nothing. The new businesses and new condo owners can't possibly appreciate junkies in their doorways, can they? When I started seeing stories about "methadone mile" I was certain it was about Downtown Crossing. Nope! Sadly, there are MANY areas of the city that could now be considered heroin hubs.

up
Voting closed 0

I live in this neighborhood and have for the past 20+ years. The problem is out of control and it is getting worse. I exited my house a few mornings ago to find two people sitting beside my car behind my building with a cooker and syringes. As I moved them along and drove away, I witnessed two adults, male and a female, engaged in intercourse between my neighbor's parked cars, with the male partner completely stripped nude. It is a wild west show in the area adjacent to Boston Medical Center and something needs to be done.

up
Voting closed 0

The media also distorts this issue and still tries to portray drug users as wayward children, like it was still the 1960s with people running to San Francisco with flowers in their hair. The increasingly desperate local TV news have a parade of teary eyed parents talking about their opiate addicted offspring, but when one looks around places like DTX and Canal Street near North Station one primarily sees middle aged people, lots of them women, completely zonked out. I would venture to bet that many of them started out on prescription painkillers for physical pain and the opiate usage rapidly escalated.

up
Voting closed 0

There are MANY young homeless and druggies all over town. I suppose the older ones just stand out ore to you for whatever reason. Just 10 minutes ago I was on a train entering Park St. with a young late teens, early 20s 'kid' nodding on H. I don't most of the other riders took any notice, many probably didn't know he was nodding. This is a common incident.

up
Voting closed 0

But the TV news media constantly defaults to the old "America do you know what your children are doing" mentality every time drug abuse is the topic, like it's 1968. You see parents on TV lamenting about their drug addicted children. But where are the adult children talking about their 45 year old mother nodded out at Dunkin Donuts on Canal Street? Because believe me, she,and many others her age, are there. It's this same default-to-the-60s mentality that continually called the Occupy protesters "hippies".

up
Voting closed 0

There should be a place where it's allowed, and heroin and needles are handed out. The area should be fenced and monitored. ANY opiate drug activity outside of the safe area should be prosecuted HARD.
No more dealers and violence around supply, no more dirty needles in playgrounds, no more street nodding in traffic.
This is practiced in many cities in Switzerland and it works. Addicts are registered and must come for their fix. They stay until they aren't a danger to themselves or others, and are offered rehab ( this is where it gets tricky). As long as the registered users play by the rules they could get vouchers for health checks and other benefits. I believe the cost over time would be a lot less than current costs of law enforcement and emergency services as they stand now.

up
Voting closed 0

except in Boston, the BRA is putting up giant luxury towers in any 'uninhabited' area.

The Wire was awesome, BTW.

up
Voting closed 0

I was coming up Mass Ave a while ago and the car wash digital sign was lit up with "Welcome to Hamsterdam"

up
Voting closed 0

I sympathize with addicts, lost a cousin to heroin many years ago. But, while giving them a safe space, shouldn't we not encourage this activity?

Something like this combined with treatment options. Not just giving them a pamphlet but really aggressive push for them to seek treatment.

There's gotta be a way to do this without condoning the behavior.

up
Voting closed 0

for treatment unless you lock them up and treat them. We, in my family, have both addiction and mental health issues and I know that you can't push anyone to do anything, especially when they feel they do not need your help.

up
Voting closed 0

I agree. Watching a loved one descend into addiction has got to be one of the most hopeless feelings.

I really don't know what the best way to handle the growing number of addicts on the street, but you're right and maybe by offering them a safe space it can ease the issue of careless disposal of needless and pedestrians having to step over spaced out addicts on streets.

I don't know if it's helping the addict, although how do you help an addict? Be there for them when they hit bottom, is my guess.

up
Voting closed 0

on methadone mile is disgusting. I get that people are homeless, and addicted, and need to be somewhere and I have compassion for them.

But for goodness sakes, there are trash-barrels. You have time on your hands. Use them.

And 7-11, Cumberland Farms, McD's, and Dunkin Donuts should combine to fund a full time street sweeper crew, since those places generate 90% of the garbage on the street. (Mostly DD).

up
Voting closed 0

I've seen you commenting here a bit (assuming somebody isn't co-opting your stylized anon name), so you should register!

I can't say I agree with everything you say but I value your input because you seem rational and say well thought out things, even if they don't agree with me.

Agree with the sentiment of what you're saying. Nobody should litter, really. And it might seem like a junkie has a lot of time on their hands to spend cleaning, but that just isn't reality for the people we are talking about.

Can't speak with TOO much authority on the homeless aspect of it, but I can speak with experience as somebody who lost his best friend to this. I lived with a junkie for years. I'm 30, I met this kid when we were 5, in the pizza line at school. I won't delve into the friend/family destroying aspects of it, that is cliche and you can tune to Lifetime channel for that.

So opiate addicts are physically addicted to the drug, whether it is heroin, pills, anti-shitting shit, fentanyl, etc. That means that even aside from any mental draw to the drug, they physically need it to not feel like shit. Getting illicit substances isn't like walking into the corner store and grabbing a pack of gum. The dealers know they aren't losing a client if they have horrible 'customer service'. Simply getting a fix so you don't feel physically ill for a few hours can take, literally, a few hours.

I wanted to write more I guess but this is already twice as long as a post I would read here so, if you care to hear more you can find me pretty easily either by registering and private messaging (which, frankly, im just assuming exists) or by hitting me up on twitter @scumquistador

up
Voting closed 0

Thanks for the note and very sorry to hear about your friend. I'm blessedly lucky that nobody close to me has gone down the addiction route, though I have friends of friends, etc.

I'm pretty aware that Maslow's Hierarchy is involved, and people who are worried about food, shelter, security (and shooting up) are less worried about litter. I almost added that into my post. But, brevity.

Still, I admit I'm not perfect, nor perfectly sympathetic, and that people trashing our world, be it pavement or nature, kind of pisses me off. I'll also admit that the more BS I see and hear about along & near Methadone Mile, the more angry and less sympathetic I feel. (Examples; people crapping on the corner, wandering in traffic, breaking into cars for the loose change, etc)

Someday, when I finally get around to regularly volunteering for a good cause, I picture it might be with one of the groups that passes out soup/sandwiches/socks to the homeless. Except, once I'm in charge, I'll hand out trashbags, rally the homeless troops and we'll all clean up (The Common, Copley Sq, etc) before serving the food. Someday.

And PS- yeah, I oughta sign up for UHub.

up
Voting closed 0

Scumsquistador - some stories deserves more space, yours is one of them.

up
Voting closed 0

do you seriously think that some one strung out has enough where-with-all to drop his/her needle in a trash bin? I don't think waste disposal is high on the list.

up
Voting closed 0

I ran across this HuffPo story written by the dean of the BU School of Public Health, Sandro Galea, last week. He's pushing back against the dehumanization of the the folks you see walking down Mass Ave by BMC.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandro-galea/leaving-behind-methadone_b_98...

up
Voting closed 0