Opioid bill expected to become law on Monday

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The opiate epidemic has led thousands of people down a dangerous, and sometimes deadly path, killing an average of four people a day in Massachusetts.

West Springfield resident Ben Paquette told 22News he’s seen the crisis worsen over the years. “It’s really bad, it just seems like every day you read about something, you know somebody, you see it on Facebook. It’s just really unfortunate, things have really gotten bad with that,” he said.

This week, state lawmakers passed a bill designed to combat the deadly opiate crisis by limiting first-time opiate prescriptions to a 7-day supply, and only allowing patients to fill part of their prescription at a time.

Many people who’ve witnessed opiate addiction first hand, like Miguel Marin of Springfield, are calling the legislation a step in the right direction. “It will help a lot, because most of the people who are starting to use it, they don’t know how to deal with that kind of drug. I know people who take more than 7 pills at once, just to get high,” he said.

The legislation has been in the works for months, and blends together proposals from the legislature, and Governor Charlie Baker.

Some of Governor Baker’s original proposals didn’t make it into the final bill. He wanted prescription pain pills to be limited to a 3-day supply, not a 7-day supply. He also wanted hospitals to be able to detain certain overdose victims for up to 72-hours, involuntarily.

Instead, overdose victims who go to the E.R. will have to get evaluated by a mental health professional within 24-hours, before they get discharged.

E.J. Altobello of Westfield told 22News he thinks it’s important that they treat each overdose at a case-by-case basis. “Depending on every overdose there’s going to be a little bit of different a situation, so hopefully hospitals will be able to step in and do what’s best for each patient at that point,” he said.

A provision in the bill will allow it to take effect as soon as Governor Baker signs it into law, which is expected to happen at 10:00 Monday morning.

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