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  Thursday, August 28, 2014
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February 14, 2014
Walsh Announces New Substance Abuse Prevention Series
By Rick Winterson
Approximately 50 people gathered in the community meeting room at South Boston’s BPD Station C-6 on Tuesday morning.  Elected officials, department heads, community activists in substance abuse treatment, and many media were there.  The occasion was the announcement by Mayor Martin J. Walsh of a new series of community-based training programs devoted to substance abuse prevention.
   
Recent news regarding substance abuse has been bleak.  The South Boston neighborhood has been no exception to that statement.  This has impacted everyone:  since 2010, overdoses from both heroin and the misuse of prescription drugs have skyrocketed by 40% in the City of Boston.  No one is unaffected by this, whether they are victims themselves or have experienced the loss of a friend, co-worker, or loved one.
   
When Mayor Walsh arrived, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who is the Executive Director of Boston’s Public Health Commission (the BPHC), opened the program.  Mayor Walsh reiterated the statistics mentioned above, and mentioned that three more fatal overdoses had occurred in just the last 48 hours.  One key part of combating this epidemic is through education and treatment options.  “The stigma around drug and alcohol addiction keeps too many people from getting the help they desperately need, and that has to change”, Walsh said.
   
To this end, five community workshops have been set up for February in South Boston, East Boston, the South End, Dorchester, and Allston/Brighton.  Eleven (11) police stations, including South Boston’s Station C-6, are equipped with MedReturn drug collection kiosks, to aid in getting outdated medicines disposed of where they can do no harm.
   
A key part of Mayor Walsh’s program is extensive availability of naloxone – more commonly known as NARCAN.  The police, the Boston Fire Department, and all EMTs and paramedics from Boston’s EMS will be trained in the use of NARCAN, so that soon, all of the City’s first responders will be trained to administer NARCAN.
   
NARCAN is administered in the form of a nasal spray.  It functions by biochemically neutralizing drugs that coat the receptors on brain cells, which gives a drug-induced “high”.  Once NARCAN neutralizes these drugs, the “high” vanishes, and the threat of an overdose is greatly reduced or eliminated.  A person has to be trained, which takes only a short time, before allowing them to administer NARCAN to a suspected overdoser.  Properly used, NARCAN works, and it works well.
   
Everyone in attendance was pleased with Mayor Walsh’s announced plans.  Police Commissioner Bill Evans, Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, City Council President Bill Linehan, and Collaborative Director Andy Ward expressed their thanks and pledged their cooperation with the Mayor.
   
Prevention of drug abuse is a top priority of Mayor Walsh’s new administration.  Tuesday’s meeting was his first major policy announcement in connection with Boston’s drug issues.    

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