Across the United States, deaths related to the opioid epidemic have reached new heights. In the year 2019, an estimated 69,029 people died as a result of drug overdose. While this is a 2.9-percent drop from previous years, the number, still staggering, is a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. On a more local level, Massachusetts alone had 1,091 overdose deaths from January 2019 to September 2019. During this same year, Winthrop had 47 overdoses, and so far, for the year 2020, there have been 27 overdoses in the community. While each locality in the state has different ways of tackling the opioid epidemic, Winthrop has the combined efforts of the police department, town health department and CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives), a joined force that has made it their mission to provide education and support for those in need.
â€œOne overdose is too many, as is the havoc that any addiction wreaks on families in our community,â€ said Meredith Hurley, Director of the Town Health Department. â€œThe CLEAR (Community and Law Enforcement Assisted Recovery) Team is strong and present in addressing substance use disorders with those who are seeking help. We also offer support to families and friends as they navigate the disease of addiction.â€
The joint efforts involved in the CLEAR team have been a successful approach to tackling addiction, however; there is still more work to be done and recent overdose deaths have made that very visible. CASA Director, LeighAnn Eruzione weighed in on the epidemic.
â€œAs with the rest of the community, we are deeply saddened to hear about the recent rise in overdoses. Although there has been a larger emphasis on initiatives to curb drug and alcohol abuse in recent years, situations like this show us that there is still so much work to be done. Whether itâ€™s information on the good Samaritan law, Narcan training, providing educational opportunities to identify unhealthy drug/alcohol use or sharing the supports available- we as a community have to come together and do more. The faces that struggle are siblings, friends, neighbors, children, parents… they are valuable members of our community and whether they struggle with larger addiction or mental health issues or are just an occasional user that got their hands on a bad batch… their life is important and we, as a community need to find a more encompassing platform of compassion to effectively create change.â€
For anyone in need of support, you can contact the CLEAR team at: 617-846-1852 ext. 1063 or email: [email protected]. The office is located on the first floor of the EB Newton Building at 45 Pauline St..