Six months ago, WBZ’s Mary Blake examined the state’s heroin epidemic in a 15 part series entitled “Heroin, from Prescription to Addiction.” As the year draws to a close, she checked back with those on the front lines, to see what, if any, progress has been made.
BOSTON (CBS) – The latest statistics from Massachusetts State Police on the number of fatal heroin overdoses remain alarming.
Since the beginning of December, state police detectives have responded to 53 suspected heroin or opiate deaths statewide, 16 of those just last weekend.
In June, Narcan was making headlines. Narcan is the lifesaving emergency treatment for addicts now being administered by EMT’s, police and firefighters. Training is also being made available to the general population.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter calls Narcan a first step only, and in some ways a double edged sword.
“We have received multiple overdose calls per day. The deaths are less frequent because of the Narcan. But the number of overdoses is increasing, not decreasing. It is frustrating and painful for me listening to the police and fire scanner as I do, just to hear the several calls per day. Earlier this month, There were 10 overdose calls in Brockton in one day,” Carpenter said.
“I’m tired of going to wakes and funerals. It’s gut-wrenching and heartbreaking and I feel a sense of responsibility. I feel like it’s my job to try to do something about it and we are trying, but I know we need to try to do something more.”.
Carpenter added that he is eagerly awaiting a drug court, scheduled to open in Brockton this coming March.
“The drug court will focus primarily on people who are on probation, and as a condition of their probation, they are required to successfully complete treatment, and it’s the leverage of the criminal justice system using the probation department to motivate someone to enter treatment programs as an alternative to going to jail,” he explained.
Carpenter also is exploring the idea of the Brockton Police Department initiating Section 35 procedures , filings with the court, for involuntary commitments of overdose victims.
“I feel if we’ve just had to revive someone to save their life from an overdose, I believe that they are a threat to their own safety or the safety of others, which meets the threshold of the current law, which I consider archaic in the first place,” he said.
Currently, family members petition the court, but oftentimes, because of HIPPA regulations, they are not told that their loved one has overdosed.
In addition, Carpenter argues detox isn’t enough. “Detox is a merry go round,” the mayor said.
On December 15, an addict named Benjamin was marking his 11th day at Highpoint Treatment Center in Brockton.
“I usually leave early and it never works out good. I know what’s going to happen every time I walk out that door and every time the door closes I regret it,” he said.
When asked why he leaves, he responded, “Because I don’t want to feel the feelings, because all of the feelings come back and it’s hard. I almost left last night. My bags were packed, but I stayed up all night and didn’t sleep and played many tapes in my head of what was going to happen, and when the morning came, I felt a lot better.”
Listen to part 2 here:
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