Opioid addiction and overdose prevention efforts

State expected to release new drug overdose prevention recommendations in the next few months

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– On recent stop in Springfield, Lt. Gov Karyn Polito told 22News right now Gov. Charlie Baker has a 16-member Opioid Addiction Working group making their way to different communities in the commonwealth to develop drug abuse prevention.

“I think it has to be a comprehensive solution, involving the medical community, around prescriptions. A lot of times prescription drugs are the reason one becomes addicted. We need far more education across the board,” Polito said.

She went on to say opioid addiction is an emergency and a crisis that has hit every city and rural community in the state. From 2012 to 2013, the department of public health reported accidental overdose deaths increased by 46 percent.

Lt. Gov Polito said Opioid Addition Working Group is working with the state’s health department and talking with the medical community to work out a plan for additional prevention measures. Those recommendations are expected to be released in the next few months.

Lt. Gov. Polito also told 22News that while there is a lot of discussion in the statehouse right now about the possibility of making marijuana fully legal in the state, she and Gov. Baker feel that would counteract the efforts being made right now against drug overdose.

“We’re committed to reducing the amount of overdose deaths in the commonwealth, due to opiate addiction and we feel that legalizing marijuana is not helping us with that overall goal,” Polito said.

One of the prevention measures the state’s Opioid Taskforce has in place currently are prescription drug drop off locations, several of which are spread out through the three counties of the Pioneer Valley.

To date the state has set designated $10 million to a variety of drug overdose and addiction programs. In the Pioneer Valley specifically, some of that money is going towards treatment and addiction stabilization programs.

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