GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The opiate epidemic continues to rip western Massachusetts, and the nation. New government data released Friday shows the number of heroin overdoses has tripled since 2010.
22News toured the latest treatment facility for opioid addiction in western Massachusetts, and spoke with Governor Charlie Baker about making treatment more available.
The new facility in Greenfield is located at 298 Federal Street, an old silver factory that is now being converted into an opiate addiction treatment facility. It’s part of a $27-million investment Governor Baker’s administration made this year to expand treatment access.
Secretary of Health & Human Services Marylou Sudders told 22News, “It’s part of the continuum of care that we need to expand access, so that people get the treatment that they need at the right time, at the right place, and here in Greenfield.”
Sudders said more than 1,200 people died in 2014 from opioid overdoses, averaging 4 deaths each day.
Patients at the Federal St. facility will have access to treatment, counseling, and mentorship, helping them reintegrate into society.
Inside the facility, there will be 64 treatment beds, and every patient will have service available 24/7. By the end of 2016, the Baker administration will have created 700 treatment beds across Massachusetts.
According to Governor Baker, having a treatment facility readily available in Franklin County is a big win; “I think for a lot of people, especially those who had to travel miles and miles and miles to find treatment, the opportunity to find and access treatment that’s a lot closer to home, hopefully where they have lots of support and all the rest is a really good thing too.”
Baker said there’s still more work to be done. He told 22News he’s proposed legislation that cuts down on over prescribing highly addictive painkillers, and brings opioid education to student athletes. He said sobriety begins with conversation.
“We need to be thinking about this as a disease that needs to be treated and not as a crime that needs to be punished,” said Baker. “And I think the more we say that, the easier it becomes for sons and daughters to tell their parents.”
Baker hopes the legislation is passed after the new year. The Greenfield facility opens in January.
If you, or anyone you know is interested in registering as a patient at Greenfield’s newest facility, click here to contact the Behavioral Health Network.