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Mass. Governor Deval Patrick allocates $20 million for statewide opiate addiction treatment initiatives
A few weeks ago, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared opiate addiction a “public health emergency” in the state. He created a task force to study the situation and come back with some effective recommendations. And that’s just what the task force has done.
Patrick wasn’t paying political lip-service to the problem, either. The governor has “put the money where his mouth is” by immediately accepting the recommendations and allocating $20 million to jump start at least two dozen new addiction treatment programs across the state. And the initiatives are aimed at the right target – prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services directly for those who need it – addicts.
Among many the new initiatives are:
- $4 million on new residential treatment programs for adolescents, young adults, families with children, and two special programs that will give priority to Latinos.
- $3 million on new treatment initiatives for inmates, including Vivitrol (naltrexone), a drug that blocks the effects of opiates.
- Enhancements to increase the effectiveness of the state’s electronic prescription monitoring program.
- New regional walk-in assessment centers, staffed by professionals who can assess and advise anyone who stops by with info on appropriate, ongoing support groups.
- A new direct-line 800 number for anyone who decides to check into a detox or rehab program. The caller receives a list of appropriate locations statewide that have openings right now, to help addicts avoid waiting once they’ve made that crucial decision.
- Five new community-based treatment programs that provide home-based counseling, bringing the total in the state to 12.
- Finding for a fifth “recovery high school” — there are four in the state already, and this one will be in Worcester.
- Funding to expand an effective family support program called Learn to Cope.
- Improved educational campaigns aimed especially at younger people are also on the agenda.
Gov. Patrick said he would like to see a New England-wide plan to reduce opiate abuse. He intends to discuss the idea with fellow governors in mid-June. Patrick said he would like to see a joint education campaign, and multi-state law enforcement collaboration to help reduce opiates available in the region. He also would like to initiate a system of sharing open treatment beds, to help reduce waiting periods when local beds aren’t immediately available. Once an addict has decided to get clean, waiting can often lead to a change of heart and a return to drugs.
As for beefed-up education campaigns, Dr. Barbara Herbert, chief of addiction services at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and a member of the task force, said any new campaign won’t use “the same old ‘just say no to drugs’” idea.
“We have to bring a different critical lens to the kind of education that we do,” Herbert said. “Fundamentally this disease is not about drugs, it’s not about substance, it’s about the disease itself. It’s about what’s going on inside people that we need to help heal.”
Officials in numerous other states have also gone on record recently calling for decisive action to slow the opiate addiction epidemic in their regions. But Massachusetts, by putting all these resources into play so quickly, is definitely leading the way in the Northeast.
Here at Novus, our patients have made the decision to become free of drugs and reclaim their lives. They come to Novus from far and wide because we have pioneered new medical opiate/opioid detox protocols which make withdrawal safe, more effective and much more comfortable. If you or anyone you care for has a problem with opiates or opioids, please call Novus and let us help you plan for a better future.
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