MMA releases report with opioid strategies for cities, towns

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

An Obligation to LeadAt its Annual Meeting on Jan. 22 and 23, the MMA released a 16-page report intended to help local officials take action on the escalating opioid abuse epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives in recent years and is affecting virtually every community in Massachusetts.
• Download “An Obligation to Lead” (365K PDF)
“Local officials have the ability to lead by providing prevention programs, encouraging public awareness, ensuring safe disposal sites for prescription drugs, and serving as a clearinghouse for valuable resources for treatment and support,” said Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, co-chair of the MMA’s Municipal Opioid Addiction and Overdose Prevention Task Force.
Task force co-chair Michael McGlynn, who recently concluded 28 years as the mayor of Medford, said the 16-page report “will offer some direction and information to the public and our colleagues in government.”
“Municipal officials across the Commonwealth have the obligation to lead the fight against the devastating impact of substance use disorders,” McGlynn said.
The report, titled “An Obligation to Lead,” outlines 10 specific opportunities for local officials to lead the fight against the public health epidemic surrounding the abuse of prescription drugs and opioids. Local officials are urged to lead an effort to increase public awareness and to designate a point person in city and town halls focused on the epidemic and available resources.
The report recommends the facilitation of broad-scale collaboration across departments, the development of a one-page resource guide for families and those seeking treatment or assistance, and a partnership with schools to develop a prevention curriculum.
Local officials are urged to provide naloxone (Narcan) to first responders and designate safe prescription drug disposal sites in their communities.
The opioid abuse epidemic claimed an estimated 1,200 lives in 2014 – complete data are not yet available for 2015 – and accounts for more than half of all deaths among 25- to 44-year-olds. In 2014, the epidemic caused more deaths than car accidents and gun violence combined in Massachusetts.
The MMA’s report represents the findings of the MMA’s 11-member task force, which held many meetings over an 18-month period with policy makers, experts, advocacy organizations, and partners.
The task force concluded that local officials are best positioned to manage the opioid crisis, but the group also developed a series of policy recommendations for state leaders in order to assist cities and towns in their efforts to manage this growing epidemic.
The task force called for the state to create a centralized database of all treatment services, to work to make more treatment beds available, to develop and fund a model prevention curriculum, and to better enforce the Prescription Monitoring Program.

By Katie McCue and John Ouellette