Marshfield's 2nd Annual Vigil to observe National Overdose Awareness Day. Marshfield FACTs placed 1,379 purple flags recognizing all of the residents in Massachusetts who lost their lives to opioid overdose in 2015.
A special thank- you to former Marshfield Selectman Matt McDonough and all of the volunteers for coordinating this vigil.
For those whose lives have been touched by opioid addiction, rhetoric promising a solution to this epidemic is becoming redundant. I began my efforts against the opioid epidemic in my hometown, when my first action as Weymouth Town Council President was to establish a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee. As your Senator, I have handled dozens of cases with constituents coping with addiction. I believe intervention must be as personal and community-based as possible in order to have the greatest effect.
Governor Baker’s first opioid bill, the STEP Act, limited prescriptions, reinforced recovery, increased punishment for distribution, and called for increased education for minors to the dangers of opiates. This year, we followed up with another landmark bill to further confront the epidemic. The Governor’s original filing of the CARE Act included a very important provision which I was proud to support. The provision would have allowed doctors to petition a court to move a patient to a substance abuse treatment facility if that patient refused to engage in voluntary treatment but presented risks of serious harm. The receiving treatment facility would then be required to engage the patient in voluntary treatment for up to 72 hours. I believe this would have been a proportionate response to the extreme cases that this opioid crisis presents, and I will continue to push for the passage of this legislation.
We must ensure pharmaceutical companies are not flooding patients with excess painkillers. I support the Attorney General’s action against Purdue Pharma, which was found to have misled doctors, patients, and the public about the dangers of opioids. We have to continue to battle for-profit entities that seek to sustain an opioid epidemic through strong governmental leadership.
I believe that intervention must start young, which is why I sponsored a bill to require that every high school conduct a school-wide assembly to inform all students of the dangers of opioid misuse, as well as how to respond to an observed overdose and the Good Samaritan Laws that protect you when calling 9-1-1. I also secured funding in the state budget for school resource officers so that they may continue to provide the protection and guidance that is so essential to a youth environment. This position is often overlooked as an effective mode of substance abuse education and advocate of healthy, productive lifestyles.