'Overdose Response Teams' Aim To Reduce Deaths Across Hampshire County

Sep 26, 2017

The city of Northampton, Massachusetts, plans to coordinate a county-wide effort to prevent opioid-related deaths, thanks to a new $1.7 million federal grant.

Northampton was the only municipality to receive the grant, which also went to 20 counties, states, and tribal health departments.

Northampton's grant will pay for every police department in Hampshire County to stock the expensive overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, according to Cherry Sullivan of the Northampton Public Health Department.

Sullivan said the money will also support overdose-response teams, which represent police, recovery centers, social service agencies, and other stakeholders.

The idea, Sullivan said, is that within one or two days after an overdose, "someone reaches back out and says, 'You've just has this really terrible experience, what support do you need?' Or to family members, 'We know your son, your brother, your husband, your partner, overdosed the other day; how can we help you through this difficult time?'"

That could include finding an available detox bed or referral to a clinic that prescribes anti-addiction medication.

Sullivan said the overdose-response teams will expand on a pilot program Northampton launched last year.