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Boston opens citywide substance abuse program to crack down on opioid abuse

Boston opens citywide substance abuse program to crack down on opioid abuse

Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston joined the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation (BCBSMF) in releasing a report on May 20, 2015, titled “Addiction and Recovery Services in the City of Boston, a Blueprint for Building a Better System of Care.” This report will serve to help combat the opioid epidemic crisis in the city. The report also serves as an outline for the new Office of Recovery Services (ORS), which will be the nation’s first municipal-based office that focuses on substance abuse and recovery issues.

Walsh stated, “Mothers were burying their kids, spouses were burying spouses and we were losing people everyday because of a needle in an arm, or alcohol in a brown paper bag.” Last year, Walsh’s office and Blue Cross found that recovery service data was not available in Boston and from there, the team started to collect some qualitative and quantitative research data. The studies indicated that heroin and alcohol were the drugs of choice in the city. The extent of use within the city matches that of the rest of the state with 11.3 percent of residents suffering from addiction.

The heroin use rate in Boston has risen dramatically. Between 2010 and 2012, there has been a 76 percent increase in drug overdoses. Emergency room calls from incidents involving heroin increased 25 percent just between January and February of 2013. Between 2000 and 2012, opioid related deaths have increased 90 percent across the state. This rate had increased 50 percent just between 2012 and 2013.

The new Office of Recovery Services will operate under the Boston Public Health Commission and will seek to improve existing treatment facilities and create a centralized database for treatment availability while expanding private and public funding for intensive care facilities within the city.

Walsh announced that Jennifer Tracy will head ORS. Tracy previously served as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adults at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

Walsh stated, “Too many Bostonians are all too familiar with the destruction that substance abuse addiction causes in our City’s families and neighborhoods …We see addiction’s devastation in our homes, at our workplaces, and on our streets. Where there are accessible recovery supports that readily assist people and families suffering from addiction, devastation can quickly transform into a wellspring of resilience and strength.”

Opioid addiction is one of largest drug epidemics in the country and it’s imperative that those who are suffering seek help. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading drug addiction treatment providers in the country. We offer various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You may contact us at 888-530-4614. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer