Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released the findings of his working group devoted to the opioid epidemic. The report supports alternatives to arrest.
“We are not going to arrest or incarcerate our way out of this,” Attorney General Maura Healy said, according to a Boston Globe report. “Addiction must be treated like any other chronic illness.”
Find the report here, but otherwise I’ve pulled out some important information and suggestions from the report:
1. Over 1,000 people are estimated to have died in 2014 from drug abuse, specifically opioid-related deaths. That would be the most over the 14 years of tracking. The second highest was estimated to have been in 2013, with 967 people.
2. Continuum of care. This is so important. Addicts can’t go from an intensive inpatient program to being out in the world, or even to an outpatient program, without another means of support. This is particularly important for people who have insecure housing and weak family relationships.
3. Stigma relating to drug abuse: We must find a way to help people see that addiction is a disease, and to a point of the governor’s report, this stigma impacts the ability for people to seek treatment. The report suggests a public awareness campaign.
4. Specialized care for the mothers and pregnant women. There needs to be “adequate capacity” for pregnant women in the system. Outreach is necessary to providers who service prenatal and postnatal women. There were more than 2,300 reports of substance exposed newborns between March 2014 and March 2015, according to the Department of Children and Families.
5. Expand peer recovery programs. I’ve seen programs like this, such as Everyday Miracles in Worcester, work wonders.
6. Jail and court need not be the main way people access care. Increase access to treatment for people who are civilly committed under Section 35. A statewide database is suggested regarding available treatment options and services.
7. The recidivism rates of people seeking acute treatment services has risen.
8. Kids who start drinking before age 15 have a higher chance of becoming alcoholics.