BOSTON (WWLP) – The state’s heroin and prescription drug epidemic is getting worse. Four people now die of an overdose every day in Massachusetts, and so some state lawmakers want to provide a “safe haven” for drug addicts.
They want to expand the Gloucester Police Department’s drug addiction program. In that city, residents suffering from substance abuse are encouraged to turn-in their drugs to police, without the risk of being arrested. Officers will then connect addicts with treatment services, instead of arresting and prosecuting them.
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The program launched nine months ago and so far, 400 people have surrendered their drugs to Gloucester police. Other local departments are now looking to build on that success, so legislators are considering a bill that would allow all police departments to adopt the program.
Rep. Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield) told 22News that he supports the initiative.
“We have to look at this as a public health issue, and I think when somebody is ready to go to treatment, we have to provide that opportunity for them,” Gonzalez said.
Former Governor Deval Patrick declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” nearly two years ago.