Collaborative Efforts Continue To Fight Opiate Addiction
March 5th, 2015

Collaborative Efforts Continue To Fight Opiate Addiction

WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has announced that the annual SECURE Conference will be held at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford on Wednesday, March 11.

At this event, hosted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, District Attorney Ryan will be joined by Chris Herren, a local basketball legend who played in the NBA and who will share his story about battling back from opiate addictions. Additional speakers will offer concrete solutions and best practices to help schools and communities effectively respond to substance abuse among youth.

Collaborative efforts in Middlesex County to fight opiate abuse began in earnest in 2012, when, in response to the alarming rise in opiate overdoses, the Lowell Opiate Task Force was founded by District Attorney Ryan and State Senator Eileen Donoghue. The Task Force members include law enforcement, hospital personnel, social services, public health workers, and legislators. The Task Force meets monthly at Lowell General Hospital to discuss various aspects of this issue, including legislative initiatives, ways to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment, the development of effective prevention programs, and emergency response. The Lowell Opiate Task Force has partnered with other entities in order to offer workshops and trainings.

On Tuesday, March 3, District Attorney Ryan in collaboration with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance led a training for medical professionals at Lowell General Hospital. SCOPE of Pain, a program sponsored by Boston University School of Medicine, educates nurses, dentists, doctors, and other medical professionals to employ appropriate assessment, monitoring, and documentation strategies to meet best practice standards and medico-legal requirements when treating patients with chronic opioid therapy.

During the session March 3, Dr. Daniel Alford, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, addressed how patients and caregivers should be counseled about the safe use of opioid medications and the need for close monitoring. District Attorney Ryan is committed to reducing the number of overdoses through collaborating with partners on educational programs for young people, training for First Responders and medical professionals, expanding treatment opportunities for those battling addiction, and, at the same time, prosecuting those responsible for bring drugs into our community.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has purchased prescription Drug Collection Units for communities in Middlesex County to provide the public with a safe, accessible way to properly dispose of unused or expired medications. Removing unwanted prescription drugs from a home is an important tool in preventing abuse of prescription drugs, as 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain killers reportedly got them from relatives or friends. Those who become addicted to prescription narcotics often then turn to heroin, as it is a much cheaper and readily available drug.

District Attorney Ryan has also hosted training for First Responders in the use of Narcan, which can reverse the symptoms of an overdose and help prevent fatalities. District Attorney Ryan provided towns and cities with 540 doses of Narcan in 2014.

Middlesex County has already reported 41 deaths from drug overdoses in 2015. Year-end figures for 2014 reflected an alarming trend: 146 drug-related overdose deaths, including 103 attributed to heroin. In Middlesex County in 2013, there were an estimated 80 drug-related overdose deaths, including 33 that were attributed to heroin. In 2012, there were 65 drug-related overdose deaths and of those, 20 were attributed to heroin.