Massachusetts opioid abuse

WAMC

    Military people who have helped track the financing of terrorist cells around the world are putting their skills to use in the war on drugs in Massachusetts. 

   A bill to address the opioid addiction crisis in Massachusetts is on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. Passed in the final hours of the legislative session, it includes a provision that would allow some jail inmates to be given drugs to ease their cravings for heroin.

As the city of Springfield, Massachusetts prepares to move forward with a needle exchange program to address the opioid crisis, concerns are again being voiced about a lack of treatment options. What officials say has been a longstanding shortage of substance abuse treatment beds in the region is frustrating to law enforcement and others on the front line of the drug epidemic.

Bills are stacking up on Beacon Hill as the Massachusetts Legislature prepares to make its typical rush to the July 31st finish line of the two-year legislative session.  Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and the Democratic-dominated legislature seem to be in general agreement on their priorities. 

Springfield Fire Department

Firefighters in the largest city in western Massachusetts are now responding to emergency calls equipped with an opioid overdose reversal drug.

     A public health emergency has been declared in Springfield, Massachusetts because of the opioid crisis.  The local health board has authorized the creation of a needle exchange program, something that was first proposed in the city 20 years ago but rejected. 

       There was finally some good news this week on the opioid front in Massachusetts. The number of drug overdose deaths fell by 8.3 percent in 2017 compared with the year before.

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   The opioid crisis has prompted officials in the third-largest city in Massachusetts to revisit establishing a needle exchange program.

JD Allen / WAMC

The opioid crisis has required involvement from educators, parents, law enforcement and young people, with addiction touching people from all walks of life. And now, many religious congregations find themselves responding in Berkshire County.  Clergy are being trained on how to use Naloxone.

JD Allen / WAMC

Area residents are getting together for a rally, walk and vigil to raise awareness of opioid addiction and recovery Saturday in North Adams, Massachusetts.

JD Allen / WAMC

State Attorney General Maura Healey says Massachusetts should be doing more to combat the opioid crisis. The Democrat held a roundtable discussion on the epidemic today in North Adams.

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More than a ton of prescription medications have been safely disposed of since a drug takeback program started in western Massachusetts ten months ago.

A treatment area in the emergency room at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, MA
WAMC

    A new government report underscores the challenge facing public health officials in Massachusetts as the opioid addiction crisis continues to grip the state.

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    A legislative committee looking into possible changes to the voter-approved Massachusetts marijuana law heard appeals from law enforcement, public health advocates, local government officials, and legalization proponents at a hearing in western Massachusetts last night.

Heroin
Matthew Kang, flickr

A state report estimates that opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts rose for a sixth consecutive year and that fentanyl is playing a role in as many as three-quarters of the fatalities.

Heroin
Matthew Kang, flickr

One thing is certain about the opioid epidemic; it can be found just about anywhere. From the big cities, to the small towns, and in the suburbs. This evening at the North Adams Public Library, a film will be shown telling the story of the toll opioids have taken on North Adams, the smallest city in Massachusetts. 

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   As Massachusetts combats the opioid addiction crisis, peer-to-peer recovery programs are growing and seeking state funding.

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     In response to the opioid crisis, a national drugstore chain has installed permanent medication disposal receptacles in some of its pharmacies in Massachusetts.

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A new initiative has been announced in western Massachusetts in an effort to reduce drug overdose deaths and the misuse of prescription medications.

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The North Adams Ambulance Service and a community organization are partnering to offer overdose reversal training.

      The death rate from the opioid crisis in Massachusetts continues to rise with a powerful synthetic painkiller playing an increasingly larger role.

Twiiter: @RepRichardNeal

Congressman Richard Neal is spending much of Tuesday in the westernmost portion of his district. The Democrat will bring attention to Massachusetts’ heroin and opioid crisis.

Twitter: @PittsfieldFire

The Pittsfield Fire Department recently received a grant to carry the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Berkshire Medical Center on Thursday will open a 30-bed long-term recovery unit for people suffering from opioid and substance abuse addiction in Pittsfield. It’s the only unit of its kind in Berkshire County.

The seal of the the city of North Adams, Massachusetts
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The North Adams City Council has backed a petition calling on Berkshire Health Systems to open an inpatient opioid detoxification center in the region.

The former North Adams Regional Hospital is now known as the North Adams Campus of Berkshire Medical Center.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

North Adams city councilors will consider a resolution tonight calling on Berkshire Health Systems to provide in-patient opioid detox beds in the region.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, second from the left, tours the Greylock Mill redevelopment project in North Adams.
Jim Levulis / WAMC

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey was in Greenfield Friday celebrating the opening of a family drug court, the first of its kind in the state.

WAMC

A western Massachusetts hospital is taking part in a national study to help determine the best treatments for the youngest victims of the opioid addiction crisis.

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Like much of the country, western Massachusetts is dealing with a substantial increase in opioid and substance abuse. While traditional medical providers are looking at ways to address the issue, a nonprofit in North Adams is doing what it can to help people recover from addiction.

This is a picture of Berkshire Medical Center's sign
Jim Levulis / WAMC

Like much of the country, western Massachusetts is dealing with a substantial increase in opioid and substance abuse that is taxing existing services. Now two area care providers are seeking to expand their capabilities to deal with the epidemic.

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