Over the last two to three years, police and healthcare providers say they’ve watched a heroin epidemic take hold in rural, economically depressed areas of Western Massachusetts. Franklin County has been hit particularly hard.
“People’s lives are destroyed. If they were on track for school or college, that’s long gone,” said Ruth Potee, a primary care doctor in Greenfield who estimates at least 10 percent of her patients are addicted to heroin. “You read the obituaries in any of the local papers, and if you’ve got a person dying under the age of 40, [the majority] are overdoses.”