Officials, police host meeting develop strategies to combat the opioid crisis in Springfield

Hampden County

More than 2,000 people died of drug overdoses in Massachusetts last year and the opioid crisis continues to be a major problem here in western Massachusetts. 

Springfield city officials and police met to develop strategies to combat the opioid crisis, Monday.

It’s a growing public health issue in Springfield. 

“What we are seeing is that the younger population in our city is becoming more impacted as fentanyl becomes something that is highly addictive,” said Commissioner of the Division of Health and Human Services, Helen Caulton-Harris. “So we are seeing an uptick as far as our residents are concerned.

City officials agree that it’s important to provide treatment for addicts, but there’s not enough space for everyone who needs a spot

“What’s really inhibited the efforts is the lack of beds, treatment facilities, and the lack of long-term incarceration,” said Springfield Police Commissioner, John Barbieri.

Officials say that there are times when an opioid addict is willing to get help, but there isn’t always a place for them, putting them on a waitlist and narrowing their chances of getting clean. 

Barbieri said, “Rehabilitation does work, the sheriff has proven that.”

The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has made treatment a priority over incarceration, providing  medical staff trained to handle people suffering from addiction and get them on the road to recovery. 

“We are able to offer a pretty full array of medications to help keep people comfortable and get them through,” said Sheriff Department Research Director, Martha Lyman.

After detox, patients can continue their addiction treatment at the recovery center on Mill Street. 

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