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Addiction Forum — Political and Community Leaders Converge

On Thursday, October 1st, 2015, leaders from the Boston community were joined by local, state and federal political leaders to discuss a public health epidemic — addiction. The Boston Teacher’s Union in Dorchester was host to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been quite candid about his own struggles and triumphs over substance use. The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill encouraging physicians to consider new approaches for the treatment of pain, as well as increase screening of public school students at risk for addiction.

As most of you who follow me know, addiction is a topic about which I am deeply passionate, as drug overdose is the #1 cause of death among my patients, Boston’s homeless men and women. I recently wrote an article about a young female patient’s downward spiral with heroin addiction

This important and historic event was moderated by Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO of the Dimock Center, a community health center which provides addiction treatment and recovery services. The 5th and final panelist was Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope, a non-profit peer-led support organization for families dealing with addiction.

Below are some key – and concerning – verbal snapshots about this devastating crisis, captured by the esteemed panel:

Mayor Walsh:
“I want to thank the Secretary for her dedication to his serious health problem. And 10 months into the job, Attorney General Healey has already done so much.”

Attorney General Healey:
“We make up 5% of the world’s population, but consume 80% of the world’s opioids. This needs to change.”
“We need a partner at the federal level who understands addiction. It would mean $10 million to a state like Massachusetts.”

–> Why is this relevant to this state? MA has witnessed a 57% increase in unintentional opioid overdose deaths from 2012 to 2014. Too many people are dying from preventable causes.

Secretary Clinton:
“I want substance use to be placed on the same level as any other medical issue.”

Suffolk Country Sheriff Steven Tompkins

“Someone once shared a great quote: ‘We are not bad people trying to be good. We are sick people trying to get better.'”
“Prevention is key, which includes education.”

“Narcan saves lives. It needs to be everywhere, including college campuses.”

Clinton gave a shoutout to Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, who has advocated for addiction.  


She also commended the Gloucester, MA Mayor and Police Department for their groundbreaking policy where addicts who turn in their drugs are entered directly into treatment without criminal charges.

The day after the above Boston Forum, another historic moment occurred when U.S. Attorney General

Loretta Lynch delivered a keynote address at the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Opioid Misuse and Addiction Summit.
Standing before a hundred physicians, health care leaders, substance use experts, law enforcement officials and patients, Lynch said, “This is a vital public health issue that was for far too long seen only through the lens of law enforcement. As physicians, you see the true human cost of these addictions.” Read about the 4 points of the White House approach.  

For More Information, Visit:

Massachusetts Bureau of Abuse Services
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Secretary Hillary Clinton
Attorney General for Masssachusetts Maura Healey
Mayor Marty Walsh
Learn to Cope

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