In a recent essay on opioids in the Boston Globe, Max Blau highlights “Twelve Lines of Attack” in combating the epidemic. Critical to the success of those “lines of attack” is support from elected officials. That means support from all levels of government since the opioid crisis is an equal opportunity scourge, respecting no economic, social, or geographic boundary.
That is why I have proposed the City of Newton hire two recovery coaches to provide long-term support for those struggling to free themselves from opioid drug dependency. The road to that freedom is long and winding, and narrow and easy to stumble on. Those dealing with drug dependency often need help months or years after the acute incident that may have led them to seek help in the first place. That’s why these recovery coaches will provide long-term support for those struggling to free themselves from opioid drug dependency.
It is also why I am advocating the creation of a network of peer support groups. Assisted by an experienced social worker, the groups will be led by individuals who have dealt successfully with a drug dependency issue of their own. It can be so difficult for a person to admit they have a problem, especially to a healthcare professional they hardly know. Sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone who’s been through the same hell that they’re going through.
As important as the programs themselves is the way in which they will dovetail with the shorter-term services already being provided locally. Let’s model the multi-tiered, private/public/non-profit approach that is necessary if our efforts are to be truly successful.
It is also critical that there be coordinated action on the state and local levels. That is also why I will enlist the support of the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association to demand the creation of a state-local program to deliver a comprehensive battery of prevention, treatment and recovery-support services to those afflicted with opioid drug dependency.
Mr. Blau’s essay has thrown down the gauntlet. It’s time for our elected leaders – local and state – to lead. I urge all my fellow officeholders to join me in answering the challenge.
Note: I have used documents created by and for the City of Newton, sometimes word-for-word, when writing this position paper.