Forum Focused On Opioid Crisis In Rural Western Massachusetts

Sep 6, 2019

A briefing from the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum said rates of prescribing opioids were higher in western Massachusetts than in the eastern part of the state.

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.