At Conference On Western Mass. Heroin ‘Crisis,’ Officials Call For New Funding

Hundreds of people packed a conference on opiate addiction at Greenfield Community College Monday. Some local and state officials used the venue to appeal for more state money for treatment.

Law enforcement and public health officials have a long list of potential solutions to what they call an opiate “crisis” in western Massachusetts.

“Immediate solutions are to make sure that we have more treatment and detoxification beds in western Mass. so people can get immediate care,” says Northwestern District Attorney Dave Sullivan. “The other is to restrict the amount of prescription pain medications that are given out to patients everyday.”

On the law enforcement side, Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the state trial court, says Massachusetts needs more specialty “drug courts.”

“What we’re proposing is eight drug courts, some may end up being regional courts, as we begin to roll out further intensive efforts to address the issues of addiction,” Carey says.

All those efforts will take state money. At the conference, State Senator Stan Rosenberg of Amherst says combating opiate addiction is a budget priority this year, but didn’t specify how much the legislature might dedicate to the problem.