Substance abuse bill unanimoulsy approved by state Senate


GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The State senate recently approved a bill to beef up efforts to control the state’s growing drug crisis. 22News spoke with residents of Franklin County, where the drug epidemic seems to be only getting worse.

State lawmakers wrote a substance abuse bill to attack the heroin problem. The bill would toughen the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and require pharmacists to offer non-addictive medication as a substitute for opiates.

Tara Ann Richard is one of many people directly affected by heroin addiction. She told 22News a bill like this can’t come soon enough. “There is an extremely bad problem with heroin and it has affected my family. I no longer can talk to my sister my brother. I don’t have any family left around here. It’s killing people. It’s taking over there lives. I’ve seen people losing their children over it. and not even caring because it changes who you are.”

It takes only 2 to 3 weeks to become dependent on painkillers. So it’s important to use the medicine as prescribed and to wean yourself off of it if you see your condition improve.

Dr. Ruth Potee of the Valley Medical Group has been very active in the fight against drugs in Franklin County. She told 22News a bill like this will help address the issues at the root of addiction. “Government restrictions actually help prescribers get better at what they do. Some of this problem falls at our feet as prescribers. We have likely over prescribed opiates for too long a period of time.”

Richard agreed and told 22News this bill is necessary. “I have gone to the hospital with a backache and doctors are so quick to hand out things like Percocets and people get addicted to them so quickly. They need to stop that. This is something that needs to be passed because I’m tired of seeing families like mine wrecked because of it.”

The bill also requires the chief medical examiner to file a report with federal drug regulators when someone dies from drug overdose. Other provisions of the bill include requirements for doctors to consult the monitoring program before writing a prescription, and to examine a patient’s prior prescription history.

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