Massachusetts looking for ways to stop opioid overdose deaths

Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts rose for a sixth consecutive year

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – People told 22News they’re at a loss for what can be done to stop this opioid overdose epidemic in Massachusetts. “It’s sad in every aspect, not just because it’s the highest, but because it’s happening to people you can look at,” said Alec Harnoise of Agawam.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health estimates close to 2,000 people lost their lives to opioid overdoses in Massachusetts in 2016. The state plans to devote more than $170-million to combat opioid addiction this year.

Ed Stewart of Enfield, Connecticut would like to see Massachusetts use a process that has worked in other states. He said, “I think a lot of success was predicated on intervention, early intervention; you know, getting the level of education in terms of awareness, even at the early school level. Lots of aggressive treatment programs.”

Report: Massachusetts opioid deaths continue to rise

The Holyoke Ordinance Committee recommended regulations for opening possible methadone clinics in the city. Methadone is used to minimize withdrawal symptoms in addicts. However, the methadone clinic proposal was met with some criticism in the Holyoke City Council.

Not everyone sees methadone clinics as a solution. Harnoise said, “They’re there before the doors even open of course because they’re waiting to get a fix, they aren’t waiting to get treatment. It hurts you as a whole because that could just as well enough be someone you love or care about.”

While heroin deaths decreased last year, the Department of Public Health study found that that fentanyl overdose deaths increased.

The methadone clinic proposal is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s Holyoke City Council meeting. 22News will let you know what happens.

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