BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The opioid epidemic in Massachusetts is growing at an alarming rate. State Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders testified before state lawmakers with a shocking statistic. She said, “more individuals die from unintentional opioid overdoses than car accidents in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by a fact of two-and-a-half times.”
The state legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse held its first public hearing Thursday. It was a chance for members to hear expert testimony, and ask questions. A behavioral health expert at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts said people are becoming addicted to prescription drugs given to them by physicians, friends or from extra pills. Dr. Ken Duckworth believes insurance companies should make it harder for physicians to prescribe large amounts of opioid pills to patients.
“If your son tweaks his knee and goes to the emergency room, that you’re not given one-hundred Vicodin. We don’t want a hundred Vicodin in someone’s medicine cabinet,” said Dr. Duckworth.
Blue Cross Blue Shield found that three-fourths of people addicted to heroin began with prescription drugs.
The Governor’s opioid taskforce plans to release their findings and recommendations no later than June 11.