Since early March, the Winthrop Dept. of Health (DPH) has had its hands full, working around the clock to combat the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. With the town still squarely in the Red Zone according to the governor’s infection map, staff are now busier than ever.
With so much media coverage of the pandemic, it’s easy to forget that Massachusetts is still tackling an opioid crisis. In fact, some studies have shown that COVID-19 is making the crisis worse. But Winthrop DPH Director Meredith Hurley announced some exciting developments on that front at the Sept. 22 meeting of the Winthrop Town Council.
The Winthrop Community and Law Enforcement Assisted Recovery (CLEAR) Program was founded in 2014 as an alliance between the Winthrop DPH and the Winthrop Police Department. Its aim is to address substance abuse through a peer mentorship recovery model, helping addicts to access treatment rather than throwing them in jail.
Recently, the CLEAR Program was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and was invited to act as mentors for its Peer Recovery Support Services Mentoring Initiative (PRSSMI). Winthrop will be educating other towns in how to implement its recovery model.
The National Association of County and City Health Officers (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have created a blueprint for marrying law enforcement and health services when it comes to preventing opioid overdoses. It recently awarded the Winthrop CLEAR Program a $40,000 grant in order to ensure its continued success.
As part of the grant, the CLEAR program will meet monthly with the CDC and biweekly with NACCHO in order to share information and best practices.