State leaders speak with local residents on the opioid epidemic

Hundreds gathered at the Greenfield Community College

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Passionate residents spoke to state leaders tonight about the alarming number of overdoses.

In 2013 there were 978 opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts. A 46% jump from the previous year. Northampton resident Jennifer Corbin, who lost her daughter to a drug overdose, said there needs to be better options for long-term recovery.

“People need help. It needs to be treated as a disease, as any other disease is treated. It can’t be ignored there are too many people dying,” Corbin said.

State leaders agree. They heard from dozens of residents Thursday night in Greenfield, to figure out what the state needs to do to stop the growing number of deaths from heroin and prescription drug overdoses.

“Too many overdoses too many deaths especially here in the Franklin County area require us to pull together to address this,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

In just the first 40 days of this year, in Franklin County specifically there were 17 overdoses, four of them deadly.

A recovering addict told 22News, drug dependence can start with prescription pills. When they become too expensive, heroin is cheap and too easy to find.

“I’m an addict myself. The trigger is going to be down the street,” said Alexi Davila. “Me myself I don’t want that no more. That’s why I’m here. To keep learning.”

In addition to more long-term recovery centers and beds, residents hope to see more police enforcing the law, taking drug dealers off the streets.

Governor Charlie Baker’s opioid task force hosted tonight’s meeting at Greenfield Community College. They’ll present resident’s suggestions to the Governor later this spring.

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