The opiate epidemic has been rampaging big cities and small town throughout the United States. It does not matter what the average income is in the town or if it has a big population or small, opiates have infiltrated every community. I speak with people from all over the United States. No matter where they live, they all the say the same thing, “It is so bad here.” I just simply reply, “yes I know...unfortunately it is bad everywhere.”
We have seen so many different ways to fight the opiate epidemic over the past 5 years. With so many people getting addicted to prescription painkillers and then switching to heroin, lives have been taken at increasing numbers. Opiate overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States surpassing car accidents. If you open any newspaper throughout the week you will most likely read about opiate addiction, whether it is directly or about a crime that is fueled by an addiction to opiates.
State governments have implemented new laws and are trying to pass new bills to curb the opiate epidemic. Most states have created a Prescription Drug Monitoring System to keep track of prescriptions of narcotics and to follow trends in doctors' prescribing of those narcotics. Everything is being watched more carefully and this is helping with the prevention of addiction. Unfortunately there are already thousands of Americans who are addicted to these drugs.
The chief of police for the Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts has taken on the opiate epidemic firsthand in his town. Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, drugs, etc) and asks for help will not be charged with a crime. Instead they will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. They will assign them an "angel" who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot. Addison Gilbert and Lahey Clinic have committed to helping fast track people that walk into the police department so that they can be assessed quickly and the proper care can be administered quickly.
Also in Gloucester, nasal Narcan (Naloxone) has been made available at local pharmacies without a prescription. The police department has entered into an agreement with a local store named Conleys and is working on one with CVS that will allow anyone access to the drug at little to no cost regardless of their insurance. The police department will pay the cost of nasal Narcan for those without insurance. The police department will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers. The police will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who would take them. The police recognize that nasal Narcan is not the only answer, but it is saving lives and no one in Gloucester will be denied a life-saving drug for their addiction just because of a lack of money or insurance. Conley's has also agreed to assist with insurance requests from those who do not have any.
I think the decisions Gloucester is making are going to be life changing and help to save many lives. Hopefully more towns will follow suit.