As we had discussed previously I think there is a lot more that can be done to combat the opiate epidemic on a municipal level. It’s my belief this will get worse before it gets better. While the major changes will come from the State and Federal Governments we have to find ways to weather the storm.
1. We need to be paying close attention to what’s happening in Gloucester and learn from what is working there. While Lowell and Gloucester are very different there are some initiatives that I feel are feasible in the Mill City.
2. We need to take a page from Falmouth’s book. They are sending out drug counselors with first responders so that when Narcan is administered and an addicts life is saved, a professional is there to steer them towards detox and then rehabilitation. I, like many of us have read about addicts literally walking away from what would have been their death had first responders not arrived with Narcan in time.
3. We often forget an addict is not the only one affected by their actions. I experienced having family members suffering from addiction while attending Lowell High and it greatly impacted my grades and attitude towards school. There needs to be a support system for students with brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and other loved ones. Something I would love to personally take part in.
4. Prevention is key. Last night I sat down with two Lowell High students and their teacher for an interview about what it’s like having loved ones struggling from addiction. I’m hoping the interview will eventually be shown to students. I didn’t candy cote anything. I talked of watching those I love slowly die, I talked of the sense of impending doom every time I received a late night phone call that could be someone informing me a friend or family member has succumbed to their addiction. DARE doesn’t always work. Sometimes young people need to hear that taking a painkiller and attending a party on a Saturday can lead to using heroin everyday.
I’m sick of burying friends and family as we all are. This should be the most important issue of the election but I sometimes wonder if it is. We can weather this storm together as a city. Lowell has a strong sense of community unseen in other areas of not only the Commonwealth but the country. I hope to utilize that in battling this epidemic in the coming years.