65-Point Action Plan to Combat Substance Abuse Released by Administration
BOSTON – Governor Charlie Baker today released the findings of the 18-member Opioid Working Group, a comprehensive report detailing 65-action steps to combat opiate abuse. Senator Jennifer Flanagan, Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee and Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Options, commended the Governor's work and the Task Force recommendations to educate families on the dangers of opiates and to expand treatment facilities throughout the state.
"The initiatives that Governor Baker and his administration have suggested will go a long way to serving the needs to children and families in the Commonwealth," said Senator Flanagan. "I believe now more than ever that everything we can do to educate families and target resources toward prevention initiatives is the right direction as we await the roll out of last year's access to treatment legislation in October. Attacking this issue from all angles is the only way we can stem the tide of this public health crisis."
The report includes both short and long term action items to be implemented between now and the next three years. Some are requiring legislative action and funding, and some will be achieved through partnerships with private industry and federal leaders. The cost of implementing the initiatives will currently be $27 million in Fiscal Year '16, which will be paid for through a combination of new state funds, MassHealth, and re-prioritization of existing state and federal grant funds.
"Opioid abuse is a public health epidemic and I applaud our working group for producing these recommendations based on a comprehensive analysis," said Governor Baker. "The solution to eradicating opioids is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and will require all of us to rethink the way we treat addiction. Today's announcements are a first step and we will aggressively pursue reforms to save lives."
The recommendations of the Task Force include initiatives to support substance use prevention education in schools and communities, require pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies to engage in data sharing with the state, and create new pathways to treatment throughout the Commonwealth.
"I commend the Governor's commitment in the battle against substance abuse in the Commonwealth. The state cannot afford another life in the fight against the disease of addiction. I applaud the administration's recommendations in treating addiction as the public health issue that it is and prevention future lives lost to this disease," said Senator Flanagan. "Continuing to increase access to services and removing the stigma of addiction shows families we are in this together and we won't stop fighting this terrible scourge on our communities."
The announcement comes just days after the launch of a statewide public service campaign to alert parents about the dangers of prescription opioid misuse by their kids. The report calls for additional public awareness initiatives to decrease stigma of the disease.