The opioid epidemic has been a priority of mine since I announced in June. This epidemic affects everyone. I have several friends in recovery, so this issue is personal to me. I believe it is in the number 1 public health crisis facing Massachusetts today.
There are a number of things I would advocate and fight for in the State House, since there is not one solution to this crisis:
- Funding: Massachusetts is not providing enough funding for the resources needed for care. Currently we have 3 “opioid urgent care clinics” in MA (Boston, Worcester, Fall River). It is a pilot program. Anyone who goes to the clinic undergoes an immediate assessment and receives help finding an appropriate treatment placement, if one can be found. Due to the demand and lack of funding, the is a limited supply of beds for treatment. This is an issue. If we are going to tackle this epidemic head on, we need to ensure the resources are there for people to get treatment. Even in our community, the CEO of the MetroWest Medical Center stated at a Council meeting a few months ago said he does have the state funding for beds for those who need it in our area.
- Expanding programs for continued care: Receiving treatment for addiction doesn’t instantly solve all problems. We need to assist those who sought treatment maintain sobriety. This is through working with nonprofits providing mental health services, job training, etc.
- Prisons: Those in prison for drug offenses are not receiving the proper treatment. So, when they are released, they use again and in many cases, overdose, or find themselves deeper in their addiction or in the cycle of prison again. We have to end this cycle.
- Education: Our kids need to learn the dangers of the opioids and other drugs. Teaching them early will hopefully give them the tools they need to make smart choices down the road. We cannot educate our kids enough about this topic.