Hello Valley Patriot Readers,
Every day we hear a news report or read of a new statistic about the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. We all know people – loved ones, friends, neighbors or colleagues – who have been affected by addiction.
Here in the Merrimack Valley, I remain committed to addressing the impacts of opioids on our communities. Recently, through the passage of the FY20 Senate Budget, I secured funds toward important initiatives to help beat back this epidemic in our region of the Commonwealth.
Included in the budget is funding to launch a pilot program that will provide transportation services to Merrimack Valley residents seeking treatment at a detoxification or rehabilitation center. The program will provide a 24/7 van service, accessed through an existing Bureau of Substance Addiction Services hotline, to transport persons in need of these services and lessen the burden on volunteers who have historically assisted with the transportation of those seeking treatment.
Additionally, I secured funds for both the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) program at Methuen High School and the Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project (MVPASAP).
Founded in the 1980s as Students Against Driving Drunk, SADD initially focused on addressing teen deaths from drinking and driving. Now, SADD focuses on the prevention of all destructive behaviors, including substance use, depression and suicide.
MVPASAP is an organization committed to ending the stigma of addiction and engaging public and private community members to work together in promoting awareness, education, prevention, and treatment of substance use in our communities.
With the help of additional funds, both the SADD program and MVPASAP can continue their important work.
Beyond the budget, I am working to gather momentum and support around several bills pertaining to addiction, including legislation – Senate Bill 272 – to expand substance use education and heroin diversion programs in public schools.
While we have made great strides in recent years toward assisting those struggling with addiction, we need to do even more in educating our youth to prevent them from ever reaching that point. It is critical that we connect with young people in our communities early on in their adolescence, as younger teenagers who try drugs or alcohol are more likely to struggle with substance use later on in life. We must stay vigilant.
If you would like additional information on legislation I am working on in this session, please contact me via e-mail at Diana.DiZoglio@masenate.gov or by phone at (617) 722-1604 anytime.
Yours in service, Diana ◊