Heroin overdoses are big concern in Western Massachusetts

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Heroin addiction is a huge problem here in Western Massachusetts. Our 22News Interactive Internet Question on Friday asked if anyone in your family struggled with it.

Thirty percent said yes. On Saturday, 22News found out what concerns people the most about heroin addiction.

“It’s a horrible, horrible existence,” said Dan Bannish of Longmeadow. Bannish said he’s seen many heroin addicts because he works at a corrections facility.

Living with a heroin addiction is quickly leading to dying from a heroin overdose in Massachusetts.

“Overdoses like young kids or something like that. About 22 years old,” said Ronnie Wilson of Greenfield.

State officials call it an epidemic. In the past decade, the number of overdose deaths has doubled. Many believe Western Massachusetts is seeing so many heroin arrests and deaths because of its central location between big cities.

“Times are hard. They suck. Getting a job’s hard and they just need that quick relief of just that one moment to be better,” Dalton Czupryna of Ware told 22News.

Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency this week. The emergency order will allow first responders to carry the overdose drug known as Narcan.

“If it’s going to save a child’s life or anybody’s life for that matter, ya, I really think it’s a good idea and people need to know they’re not alone…They need to know that they can ask for help and it’ll be there for them,” said Becky Allen of Greenfield. She said she has many friends with children who have suffered or died from the addiction.

Many people told 22News they’re not just concerned about overdoses, but also the spread of Hepatitis C through dirty needles. They said they’d like to see more needle exchange programs like the ones Tapestry Health offers.

“They’re desperate, desperate folks…Talk about doing anything to get these folks connected and using Narcan or anything else as a first step to getting them connected to a helping system. That would be wonderful,” said Bannish.

As part of his emergency order, Governor Patrick said he would also allocated 20 million dollars for addiction and recovery services in Massachusetts.

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