Hundreds gathered in Springfield to address the opioid crisis

The opioid epidemic is a growing crisis in western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Four people die every day in Massachusetts because of opioids; last year, 1,056 people died from opioid overdoses in the state.

More than 200 people packed City Stage in Springfield Thursday night where Mercy Behavioral Health Care focused on the growing concern over the opioid crisis.

According to Dr. Robert Roose, of Mercy Behavioral Health Care, “Opioid addiction is the number one public health concern that both the Commonwealth, as well as, the country face. So to come up with solutions, we need to pull those solutions from everyone.”

Former Boston Celtics player and recovering heroin addict Chris Herren told 22News he thinks marijuana is a gateway drug; “The numbers will only increase until we focus on prevention and education. Hopefully someday wellness, in general, will become a core class, because a healthy kid does better at everything.”

Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Interstate 91 has a lot to do with why some western Massachusetts communities have been affected by the opioid epidemic. She said, “Interstate 91 seems to be a bit of a gateway for drug traffickers. The governor has been very committed in expanding access to treatment. We also need to deal with the drug interdiction side.”

Massachusetts has added 450 treatment beds across the state, including 64 beds in Greenfield, and 34 at the Western Massachusetts Hospital in Westfield.

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