BOSTON — Opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined by 10 percent in the first nine months of 2017 when compared to the same time period last year, the state Department of Public Health reported Monday.

Taboos about drugs are lying shattered across the United States, like broken debris after a party. But even as some states have begun to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, there is an argument that is making some Americans hesitate.

"What we're really trying to do is change the culture. We're trying to work with them so they're not left to their own devices. It's a culture shift," says Sean Lebroda, director of the new detoxification unit at the Middleton Jail.

International Overdose Awareness Day was last month. I’ve wanted to write about the opioid crisis, especially since our new governor has made it a priority, but have very little awareness of the subject except for what I read in the newspapers. I know I’ve used some opiates after surgery, at…

Despite heroin’s bogeyman status as one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs on the illicit market, the opium-based drug is staging a comeback across America. Mexican traffickers have developed shorter, faster and easier pathways to bring it to our streets.

Fentanyl can kill an opiate addict just as easily as heroin. Yet trafficking in the powerful synthetic drug -- more than 50 times more powerful than heroin -- is not illegal in Massachusetts, and the gap in enforcement has exacerbated the death and suffering wrought by the current epidemic.

Our state is facing growing heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemics, and some New Hampshire families will live with its effects for the rest of their lives. The Griffins from Newton are one of these families. Their daughter Courtney was just 20 years old when she overdosed and lost he…

St. Teresa of Avila reverently wrote these words: "Christ has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which his compassion looks out upon the world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good."

For those whose primary view of life comes from television and movies, heroin and opiate addiction happen somewhere else. The world of the fictional heroin junkie is a squalid one, populated by the dregs of society lurking in dark alleys, desperately seeking their next high.

Ten years ago, the pages of this paper were filled with stories of families held hostage to opiate addiction. Young men and women barely out of high school found themselves in jail, their promising lives derailed by heroin and Oxycontin. Children wept for parents lost to overdose. Parents in…