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Forum Focused On Opioid Crisis In Rural Western Massachusetts

The opioid crisis in small and rural communities in western Massachusetts was the topic of a well-attended conference Friday at UMass Amherst.

A report presented by the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum praised much of the work already being done to address the addiction crisis.  It noted the region suffers from a shortage of treatment-on-demand options, and also support services for addicts in recovery.

The group’s executive director Mike Doonan said drug addiction in small towns touches many lives.

"The EMT who shows up to save someone's life, they will often know that person, and so losing the life of people in these communities is really profound," said Doonan.

Opioid related deaths rose in western Massachusetts from 2017-2018, while declining statewide.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.