Recovering addicts pack the State House for expanded treatment

More than 1,200 Mass. residents died from heroin or opioid-related overdoses

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The opioid crisis is reaching far beyond the state’s major cities. More and more Massachusetts residents are getting hooked on prescription painkillers and some move onto the cheaper alternative – heroin.

Troy Beers, 25, is seeking treatment in Springfield. He told 22News, “It was always opiates and alcohol; it was both. Pretty much anything you put in front of me I would do.”

The statistics are alarming. Last year, 1,256 people died from heroin or prescription drug overdose in Massachusetts. That averages out to about four deaths each day. More than one hundred people who’ve struggled with substance abuse packed the State House Monday to celebrate their roads to recovery.

“It helps you build a network, keeps you connected with people who are so helpful and supporting,” said Muriel Togba of Springfield.

Some addicts can’t afford the cost of treatment programs. Beginning in October, private health insurance companies will be required to cover detox and up to two weeks of in-patient treatment. State lawmakers are also considering drug screenings for middle school and high school students.

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) said, “ a trained professional can assess whether someone is going down the wrong road or whether they’re engaging in risky activity. It’s not drug testing.”

Governor Charlie Baker wants to dedicate $28 million dollars to expand prevention and treatment programs statewide.

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