CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Fighting the opioid epidemic has been an uphill battle in Massachusetts.
22News sat down exclusively with Governor Charlie Baker, to find out how his administration is working to end a drug crisis that only seems to be getting deadlier.
Governor Baker told 22News there is some positive news, opioid prescriptions decreased 23% in Massachusetts in 2016, following the implementation of the state’s prescription monitoring program. “I think the prescription monitoring program is actually working pretty well.”
The Governor also said heroin deaths declined in 2016, yet overall opioid overdose deaths, increased. “The problem is fentanyl has come in, and replaced heroin in many cases,” he said.
A 22News I-Team investigation uncovered fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, and is being cut with drugs before they even reach Massachusetts.
Governor Baker told 22News, an even stronger version of fentanyl has made its way to Massachusetts. “I fully expect that we’ll be putting more resources and effort into intercepting, and arresting people who are dealing in fentanyl, on a forward basis, and carfentanil as well, which has been recently discovered, and responsible for eight deaths up in New Hampshire, and is even more dangerous than fentanyl,” he said.
Baker said with drugs this deadly, the only way to fight back is to prevent people from getting addicted. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can, to reduce the likelihood that people become addicted in the first place,” he said.
The Baker Administration has increased spending for treatment and recovery by 50 percent over the past couple of years.