The Opioid Crisis in Bayamón
The opioid crisis is a serious problem in Bayamón and in Puerto Rico. Tragically, 11.5% of people in Puerto Rico suffer from some form of substance abuse, according to the Puerto Rico Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services. From 1999 to 2013, the rates of prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, and morphine increased significantly in Puerto Rico. As a result, the crisis of opioid addiction has come to Bayamón and many residents are at risk for overdose. In 2016, an opioid overdose claimed the lives of 72 Puerto Ricans. The opioid fentanyl, which is even more potent than heroin yet remains legal to prescribe, killed 68 people in Puerto Rico in 2017 and at least 40 people in Puerto Rico in 2018. More Puerto Ricans almost certainly suffered fatal overdoses on opioids in 2018, although the devastation of Hurricane Maria has prevented the government from maintaining a record of every overdose.
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Drug Trafficking in Bayamón
Puerto Rico is a point of access for drug traffickers who are moving their products from Central and South America into the United States mainland. Although only about 10% of the drugs which traffickers bring to Puerto Rico remain in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican government estimates that traffickers who are selling drugs in Puerto Rico still reap profits which total to about $366 million annually. Drug trafficking in Puerto Rico sustains addiction in Bayamón and local and federal authorities are working to arrest traffickers and confiscate illegal drugs. In 2018, Puerto Rican police arrested the members of the powerful and violent Bayamón drug gang “Los Menores,” most of whom were younger than 25 years old. In 2016, police confiscated a large supply of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and other controlled substances in the Minillas neighborhood of Bayamón.
The police also often confiscate weapons along with narcotics. In Puerto Rico, violence sometimes accompanies drug trafficking. In fact, 78 people were murdered in Puerto Rico amid conflicts between rival drug gangs in only the first month of 2018. In Bayamón and throughout Puerto Rico, young people who become involved in drug trafficking face even greater risks for exploitation and violence, especially if they also live below the poverty line. Furthermore, Puerto Rican women who are living with addiction to drugs are far more likely to be vulnerable to sexual abuse. Drug traffickers in Bayamón and throughout Puerto Rico destroy lives as well as break the law.
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The Effects of Hurricane Maria in Bayamón
When the Category 5 Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, thousands of Puerto Ricans lost their homes, their jobs, and their lives. Hurricane Maria was the worst natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico, and researchers have estimated that over 5,000 Puerto Ricans died during the storm and the humanitarian crisis which arose throughout the island in the subsequent months. Bayamón struggled with widespread electricity outages for months after Hurricane Maria and the city lost at least $5 million in economic activity. Although all Bayamón residents suffered from the effects of the hurricane, those who are living with the challenges of drug addiction continue to face unique problems. After the hurricane, addicted Bayamón residents lost access to organizations operating in Puerto Rico which provide them with counseling and clean syringes. Therefore, they became more vulnerable to contracting diseases from used needles and from losing progress in their recovery.
Finding Help in Bayamón
There is always hope for recovery from addiction. Hurricane Maria has inflicted even more hardship on Puerto Ricans in Bayamón who are trying to overcome substance abuse, yet there are options for support, therapy, and treatment in Puerto Rico and in the United States mainland. If you or someone you know is trying to achieve liberation from addiction, contact a dedicated treatment provider today for more information on where to go and what to do.