Report: State needs to expand opioid recovery services

Police say pure heroin being distributed in Camden is to blame for 15 overdoses in a 24-hour period.  Credit: Getty Images
A task force released its recommendations for the state to combat what state officials called an opioid epidemic.
Credit: Getty Images

Saying there is a need for expanded drug addiction recovery services across the state, a task force released a report analyzing ways to address the “epidemic of opiate abuse” in Massachusetts.

The Opioid Task Force and state Department of Public Health released their findings and recommendations on Tuesday.

Among the findings included in the report was the need for expanded recovery services. Those in recovery highlighted the importance of the state’s seven Recovery Support Centers, which operate 12 hours a day. The report recommended expanding the hours and number of those centers.

Additionally, the report said there is a need for increased education for youth and families about the dangers of drug use, as well as a need for increased education for prescribers to ensure effective pain management.

The report comes after Gov. Deval Patrick in March declared a public health emergency in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of unintentional fatal opioid overdoses increased 90 percent, according to the state. In 2012, 668 Massachusetts residents died from unintentional opioid overdoses, a 10 percent increase from 2011. And in the five-month period between November 2013 and March 2014, state police reported that at least 140 people died of suspected heroin overdoses in communities in which they respond to homicides.

Patick’s office said on Tuesday that he will meet with New England governors next week at Brandeis University to discuss a regional response to the issue.

“These actions will help enhance our network of treatment and recovery services to help communities and families struggling with addiction,” Patrick said in a statement. “I hope this work results in more families talking openly about issues of addiction in order to spark the process of healing and recovery.”

In February, Revere’s health officials issued an advisory after a spike in opioid overdoses. Between the start of the year and the end of February, there were 44 calls for help for opioid-related overdoses in Revere. Also in February, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that he wants all of the Hub’s first responders to begin carrying Narcan, the overdose reversal drug.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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