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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New England Teams Up Against Drug Epidemic

A political and geographical map of New England
In New England, five governors have agreed to work together in the fight against the growing prescription drug and heroin abuse problem, according to the New York Times. New England has seen an influx of heroin abuse as many prescription opioid addicts turn to the illegal drug as a stronger alternative that costs a lot less.

The New England plan was announced at a press conference where the governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts explained the elements of their regional strategy. The states have agreed to share data on the prescribing of prescription painkillers and to work together to stop “doctor shopping.”

“This epidemic has affected too many of our families and communities, but if we work together, we can recover together and we will come out of this crisis with strength and hope,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a news release. “Each of the New England governors has taken strong action to combat opiate abuse in their own states, and now we are acting together as one region to take on this challenge.”

Governor Patrick said that the group will also be working with the state of Maine and hopes to work with New York and Canada in the future. Encouraging New York to join the group is key; the majority of all heroin on the east coast is trafficked to New York and then spreads across the region. 

They also hope to work out treatment agreements among their state Medicaid programs. This would allow low-income addicts in one state to do to treatment in another. It is often the case that treatment facilities are short on beds causing patients to wait, sometimes months for an opening; such waiting periods can provide addicts time to change their mind about getting help. Allowing people to seek treatment in another state will drastically cut down on waiting time which will save lives.

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