Massachusetts, next to Ohio, is known as one of the states that have been hit hardest by the current opioid crisis. 

Along with opioids, there is another substance on the rise in Massachusetts. Cocaine has always been a popular drug throughout the U.S., and now it’s being used more frequently in the state.

Massachusetts rehab centers, detoxification facilities, and hospitals have all made strides toward treating those with substance use disorders. These options can set an individual with an SUD on the path to recovery. 

There are several reasons for the prevalence of cocaine in Massachusetts. Below we’ll take a look at some of these reasons. 

In 2016, it was reported that 1.9% of Americans aged 12 and up used cocaine, or about 5.2 million people. 

Cocaine is a stimulant that has pleasurable short-form effects. There are many ways to ingest cocaine, including snorting, smoking, injecting, and rubbing it in your gums. 

Short-term effects of cocaine are:

  • short bursts of energy and euphoria 
  • hyperactive activity, such as talking a lot, sweating, and sensitivity to light, touch, and sound 
  • mental alertness
  • dilated pupils
  • fast heart rate 
  • no desire to sleep or eat 

Since these effects can wear off within a few minutes or an hour, people will go on binges to keep feeling high. This can lead to dangerous, erratic, and nonrational actions. 

Cocaine binges can induce:

  • paranoia 
  • irritability 
  • anxiety
  • tremors
  • vertigo
  • muscle twitches 

Addiction can form once an individual continues drug use in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. People with substance use disorders will not want to stop use, even if there are blaring negative consequences. 

Why Is Cocaine Use Common in Massachusetts? 

In the first six months of 2021, there were over 1,000 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts. Over half of these deaths involved cocaine. The high use of cocaine in Massachusetts can be attributed to many factors. 

These can include: 

  • cocaine’s relationship with opioids 
  • the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • the large percentage of college students in Massachusetts

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors. 

Cocaine and Opioids

Where opioids induce an almost unconscious state, cocaine does the exact opposite. Stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, can have an individual up for hours or days. 

Because they produce contrasting feelings, coupled with the fact they can both be injected, cocaine and opioids are often combined to offset each other’s effects. 

In drug culture, this is called “speedballing.” In the past, speedballing referred to combining cocaine and heroin exclusively. However, with the advent and popularity of other opioids, mixing any of these with cocaine can be called speedballing. 

Opioids and cocaine also look very much alike. Drug dealers will maximize profits by cutting fentanyl into cocaine. This makes a supply of cocaine last longer. 

Oftentimes, someone will unknowingly take fentanyl, thinking they are strictly ingesting cocaine. This leads to overdoses and deaths. 


While the United States was fighting the opioid crisis, another pandemic emerged. COVID-19 was a health epidemic that forced the world to quarantine. For several months, normal daily and social functions were disrupted. 

COVID-19 led to many stressful situations, including:

  • loss of occupation 
  • loss of friends, family, and partners due to the illness
  • inability to socialize in person with friends and family
  • an overabundance of media and phone use 
  • lack of access to normal mental health resources

When someone is stressed, it’s easy to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. In Massachusetts, where drug use was already high, COVID-19 had a more adverse effect. Drugs, such as cocaine, were even more sought after. 

College Life 

Massachusetts is home to many top-rated universities and houses many college students. 

College is often a time young people use to try new things. This includes traveling by themselves, dating, and substance use. 

The fast-paced and high demanding lifestyle of college makes cocaine a perfect drug to use. Students often have many responsibilities to juggle, including classes, part-time jobs, and social lives. 

Because cocaine is known to deliver energy, college students will abuse it before studying, or throughout a long night of partying. In the same way that opioids and cocaine are mixed together, college students might combine alcohol (also a depressant) and cocaine to avoid falling into an alcohol-induced blackout.