Governor Deval Patrick has declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts in response to the state's growing epidemic of heroin overdoses and opioid addiction.
Patrick will dedicate $20 million to increase treatment and provide more recovery services to the general public. Funds will also be distributed to the Department of Corrections and to Sheriffs' Departments, according to a news release sent to CBS 3 from the governor's office.
Patrick said he has asked the Department of Public Health (DPH) to take several immediate steps to combat overdoses and help with addiction recovery.
Patrick's order will allow first responders to universally carry the emergency overdose drug narcan, and also make the drug more widely available by prescription in order to provide better access to families and friends who fear someone close to them may overdose on heroin.
"We have an epidemic of opiate abuse in Massachusetts, so we will treat it like the public health crisis it is," Patrick said. "I have directed DPH to take certain immediate actions and to give me further actionable recommendations within 60 days, to address this challenge and better protect the health of people suffering from addiction and the families and loved ones who suffer with them."
Patrick said he plans to partner with other governors to develop a regional action plan to bring an end to the opioid epidemic.
Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan praised Patrick's declaration Thursday sending CBS 3 this statement:
"Governor Patrick's declaration of a publichealth emergency addressing the opioidepidemic is a big step forward. Allocating more funds to treatment and recovery programs andstreamlining regulations to allow first responders to carry Narcan will savelives and reduce opiate-related crime. Our Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force has advocated formandatory prescription drug monitoring which will now become mandatory for allprescribers. Taking concrete steps toprevent prescription drug addiction will significantly reduce the risk ofheroin addiction and the human misery and death it brings. I lookforward to working with the Patrick Administration and community to addressthis opioid epidemic."
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