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$25 Million Gift to Boston Medical Center Will Fund Opioid Center

$25 Million Gift to Boston Medical Center Will Fund Opioid Center

Author: Shernide Delva

Boston Medical Center just received $25 million, the largest donation in its history, and plans to use the money to fight the public health crisis caused by drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. The money will fund the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine funded by the billionaire investor John Grayken.

The Grayken Center for Addiction medicine is named after billionaire investor and south shore native John Grayken and his wife, Eilene. The couple said they wanted to go public with their donation in an effort to destigmatize addiction and encourage others to follow their lead. Sadly, there is a lot of shame and stigma associated with drug abuse.

“We have not seen private philanthropy in the addiction space to the extent we see it in other areas of health care, like cancer,” said Michael Botticelli, who worked closely with BMC in his former roles as White House drug czar and head of the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

“There’s an idea that people with substance-abuse disorders are somehow less deserving of care and treatment and compassion . . . and issues of addiction can be seen as unpopular programs for unpopular people,” he added. “So this family’s donation is particularly important because they want to be open about who they are to spur other philanthropy in this space.”

Boston Medical Center president and chief executive Kate Walsh called the couple’s gift a major game changer for philanthropy in Boston “because it brings addiction medicine out of the philanthropic shadows.”

Last year, the CDC estimated that there were 33,000 overdose deaths in the country. The state of Massachusetts was not spared. Public health officials say that nearly 2,000 deaths in the state were attributed to opioid overdoses, five times more than in car crashes.

Opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers, fentanyl and oxycodone are responsible for most overdoses. Another 20 million people in the United States suffer from drug abuse or addiction, according to federal data.

“This is a public health crisis, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Walsh. “Kids and parents are struggling with this, and so many people have been in recovery and relapsed.”

In fact, opioid abuse is so prevalent that the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program opened a room last year in which drug users could use under medical supervision. The aim was more harm prevention to offset a number of overdose deaths in the state.

Walsh said she “hadn’t even fantasized” about a gift as large as the Graykens’ and the BMC projected it would take at least 15 million to endow an addiction medicine center.

“So when the $25 million figure came through, I literally gave what I’m sure was not a very attractive happy dance!” Walsh recalled. “I hope I’m not on somebody’s videotape, but it was so enormously gratifying.”

Before this donation, the largest contribution to the hospital was two $15 million donations. Those funds went to separate facility. The BMC is a facility where more than half its patients are low-income and is reliant on government subsidies. Because the hospital deals with more low-income patients, those patients are not likely to make later contributions to express their appreciation. It is not due to patients lacking gratitude; they simply lack the funds to donate after treatment like in other hospitals.

The funds from the Graykens will help tremendously with building the addiction treatment facility at the Boston Medical Center. In addition, the fact that the donation is public sends the message to how serious addiction is and how addiction should never be stigmatized. Furthermore, if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, know you are not alone. Call now.

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Turning in Drugs for Free Treatment: New Drug Program Sees Early Success

Turning in Drugs for Free Treatment: New Drug Program Sees Early Success

Author: Justin Mckibben

A short time ago in May we reported on an amazing new program starting up in a Massachusetts town geared toward helping addicts and setting a new standard in the clash against the opiate epidemic. State officials were developing and promoting a new strategy for addressing the escalating issue of drug abuse and overdose death in their area by offering a revolutionary three-pronged program.

The Gloucester Program

The outline of the program was to provide three major resources:

  1. Give addicts who surrender drugs immediate help with detox and recovery without any legal action.
  2. Put nasal naloxone in the hands of addicts, families, and caregivers to prevent overdose death.
  3. Offer addicts caught in possession of narcotics the chance to avoid any criminal record by immediately enrolling in and completing an inpatient recovery program, through a partnership with the district attorney’s office.

Well I am now excited to report that so far it appears this awesome new tactic is already paying off.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello led the charge for this unique method, and spoke avidly about his own excitement from the resounding rally of support behind the project in the stage where it was still just an idea.

According to Campanello, upon turning themselves in the program’s participants are no longer escorted to the local emergency room for evaluation. Now a clinician works with them on a treatment plan and facility location.

A volunteer “angel” remains with the person through the three hour process treatment plan process, and sometimes this “angel” is in fact a former addict themselves, giving their time to help a fellow addict find their way to treatment and encouraging their efforts.

Money Talks

A big draw for a lot of officials on the outside looking in is the claims that extra costs have been “minimal” for the police department, and have all been paid using some of the city’s drug seizure money!

Costs of drug treatment for participants, who are Massachusetts residents with no insurance plans or plans covering treatment, are covered by state funding. So an addict who feels hopeless and helpless without insurance to pay for their treatment is given free treatment paid for by the state simply for showing up and handing over their using utensils.

AND money taken from drug dealers is used to cover all extra costs of aiding the addicts those drugs have created, how amazing is that?!

Although most addicts have been placed in substance abuse treatment programs in Massachusetts, service providers across the country also have stepped up to lend their services. According to Campanello, 22 agencies in 15 states have even agreed to pay for the treatment of those without health insurance!

So while the program originates in this one fishing-town, people all over the country are inspired to reach out and take part in this remedial movement.

Exciting Early Progress

Now Gloucester has voiced the early signs of a victory, with 17 people addicted to opioids such as heroin, morphine and oxycodone taking the police department’s offer to turn over their drugs and paraphernalia without fear of arrest as long as they agree to enter treatment on the spot.

17 people might not sound like a huge success if you are focused on the statistics of how many people are dying annually from opiate related circumstances, but for the seaside community of about 29,000, Campanello said it is more than 3 times the number of people who have died of drug overdoses this year, and the program just started June 1st!

And let’s be real. Every life matters. So if it saved one life, it was well worth the efforts. 17 so far being given the opportunity is amazing, and the success in Gloucester has caught the attention of other communities.

Campanello admitted the department didn’t see a single addict take the offer on the first day the program launched. But since then there have been about one to two addicts a day, on average. That means 17 is sure to turn into a wave of admits as hopeless addicts march toward a recovery made more possible than ever.

Spreading the Word

Campanello is all about spreading the word, and understandably so. He believes this brand of initiative needs to become more widespread, and recently commented,

“We need to get people into treatment. If they fail, we need to get them into treatment again. Just keep trying. Arresting them or coercing them into treatment just doesn’t work.”

The program has reached a variety of supporters impressed with the work it is doing, including:

  1. Mayor of Boston

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has definitely taken notice of the program, and he has stated he’s already considering adopting the policy for New England’s largest city, describing it as a “great idea and a great pilot program.”

  1. John Rosenthal

The growing interest even impelled Gloucester resident and Boston-area businessman John Rosenthal to help Campanello launch a privately funded nonprofit to support the effort.

Rosenthal has endorsed that long term this program “has the potential to change national drug and treatment policy.”

Rosenthal said the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative will assist with a few key factors for multiplying the effect of the program, including:

  • Coordinate treatment for addicts
  • Support studies looking at the long-term effectiveness of the initiative
  • Help other cities and towns replicate the efforts

Experts say the Gloucester program is unique, standing all on its own compared to the entire country, and more and more seem to stop and take notes.

I have to say I was genuinely thrilled when I wrote the first article about this idea during the blue-print stage. Now seeing that in just a few weeks it has already inspired a clear and confident response, I salute this police department and other officials involved. I hope more police forces in this nation will replicate this outreach to their own communities, and that we evolve into a society determined to help each other even when it’s harder to do so.

Taking advantage of one incredible opportunity can be the catalyst that changes everything, and while it may seem like drugs and alcohol have you cornered there is always a way. Palm Partners wants to help you find that way. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135




Resurgence in the Heroin Epidemic

Resurgence in the Heroin Epidemic

 By Cheryl Steinberg

A recent surge in fatal heroin overdoses in a short period of time around Boston has prompted police departments across Massachusetts to educate residents about the resurgence in the heroin epidemic.

The month of March isn’t even halfway over and already the Massachusetts State Police responded to 21 deaths resulting from heroin overdose – in fact, these cases occurred in a mere 8-day span.

Resurgence in the Heroin Epidemic

Last year, during the months of January and February, there were more than 140 overdoses; the majority of these cases involved a male victim.

Last week in Lynn – a city just north of Boston – there were three fatal heroin overdoses within 48 hours, an indication of the troubling growth in the trend. In 2014, thirty-five people died in Lynn as a result of heroin, compared to only seven people in 2010.

Yarmouth Police Tuesday reported its 39th known heroin-related overdose and its 5th heroin-related death since the beginning of 2015.

Heroin addiction is ugly and deadly and rips families apart in cities and towns all over Cape Cod, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the entire New England region,” the department posted on Facebook Tuesday.

In response to the staggering number of heroin deaths, there has been an ongoing effort in Mass. to combat its opiate epidemic and this Monday, national experts on addiction convened in order to share strategies on opiate addiction treatment.

The Opioid Addiction Treatment forum, hosted by the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) and held at Suffolk University Law School, created a forum for clinicians, legislators, and health-care researchers and administrators.

President and CEO of MAHP, Lora Pellegrini, introduced the forum’s three main speakers: Dan Ollendorf, chief review officer for the Institute of Clinical and Economic Review; Stuart Gitlow, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine; and Rhona J. Robinson Beale, co-chairwoman of a National Quality Forum Steering Committee focusing on treating substance use.

Each speaker presented his or her findings and suggestions for how best to move forward with the treatment of opiate addiction.

The forum also included a roundtable discussion between the three speakers, state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems representative Domenic Ciraulo, and CleanSlate Centers CEO Amanda Wilson.

“MAHP takes very seriously the opiate-addiction crisis,” Pellegrini told the forum. “Today is a discussion with national experts about all the tools in the toolbox for dealing with opiate addiction.”

“We need to treat the addicts that are currently going through it and prevent others from becoming addicts,” said Flanagan, a Leominster Democrat.

“We’re hoping that today, as we talk about best practices, we talk about what’s going on in our communities.”

Have you been swept up in the opiate epidemic in this country? Perhaps you were initially taking narcotic painkillers because they were prescribed to you for post-surgery or some other pain condition. Many people experience opiate- and heroin-addiction as a result of this kind of situation. As lawmakers began cracking down on pain pills, they became more expensive and harder to come by. Out of desperation and pain, people have been turning to heroin in order to maintain their pain and keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin, painkillers, or any other substance, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate Addiction Specialist today.

Drug Abuse By State: Vermont

Drug Abuse By State: Vermont

Surprisingly, Vermont has been ranked as the state with the highest rate of illicit drug use – with 15% of people saying they’ve used a substance within the past month. This rate appears staggeringly high when compared to Utah’s 4.2%, which is the lowest-ranking state for illicit drug use. These trends were documented by surveys conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2010-2011.

Vermont Drug Abuse: Factors

According to Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs at the Vermont Department of Health, this trend is a due to such factors as weather, politics, and proximity to big cities.

“You have everything from the colder climate, which tends to be a reason some people give, to more liberal attitudes, to higher income levels, to people having more access, but I don’t think anyone knows for sure,” Cimaglio told Business Insider.

Vermont Drug Abuse: Trends

Perhaps the main reason that Vermont ranked so high – no pun intended – due to its residents’ use of marijuana, alone. The state ranked highest in the U.S. for marijuana use, with about 13% of people saying they’ve used the drug within the past month.

However, statistics show that Vermont drug abuse doesn’t discriminate when it comes to drug of choice; the state ranked the highest for almost every type of drug, from marijuana to cocaine.

And just like the rest of the country, heroin use is taking off in the Northeastern state. The Burlington Free Press reported in 2011 that prescription drug use has also risen dramatically in Vermont, as it has around the country. Many Vermont heroin addicts started out with prescription painkillers, like oxycodone, Vicodin, and Lortab. When it became difficult or too expensive, addicts turned to heroin – a cheaper version of these pharmaceuticals.

Vermont Drug Abuse: Why Vermont?

Trafficking from out-of-state drug dealers is one main way that has exacerbated Vermont’s drug abuse problem, because the state’s highways dump into big cities.

On this aspect, Cimaglio said, “I think Vermont is really in sort of a perfect storm because we’re on that highway between Montreal, Boston, New York, and also going to Philadelphia. You have to go through Vermont to get to some of the bigger cities like Boston, so it seems like some people are just trafficking along the way and Vermont is one of the stops.”

The street drug is coming from cities like New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago. In fact, copious amounts of heroin are coming into Vermont from big-city dealers who can sell the drug at a higher price there. For example, a bag of heroin might cost $5 in a big city but, dealers can sell it for as much as $30 in Vermont. Despite this hike in price, Vermont is seeing an uptick in heroin use, Cimaglio confirmed.

Vermont Drug Abuse: Crime

As is suspected with issues of drug abuse and addiction, drug-related crime is on the rise in Vermont, too. Cimaglio stated that, within the last year or so, she’s heard more stories of burglaries related to drug trafficking and more stories about people being arrested in Vermont who aren’t from the state.

Vermont Drug Abuse: Plan of Attack

Vermont is taking a proactive approach to the increasingly problematic issues surrounding Vermont drug abuse trends.

“We’ve enhanced our treatment services greatly, and also law enforcement,” Cimaglio said. “We’re addressing it on all fronts.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.


In the News: Massachusetts Reports at Least 185 Heroin Deaths Since Nov. 1

In the News: Massachusetts Reports at Least 185 Heroin Deaths Since Nov. 1

The outrageous data released by state police focuses on the growing problem of heroin overdoses in the Northeast. The state police announced on Tuesday that the plague of heroin has hit Massachusetts hard, where 185 people have died from overdosing on the toxic drug since November 1st. The February 2nd overdose death of 46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman brought to light the seriousness of the heroin epidemic sweeping the country.

There were numbers presented on Tuesday that don’t even include the state’s three biggest cities; which are Boston, Springfield and Worcester. The bleak numbers present a picture of a horrible problem in the New England state of some 6.7 million people. State police spokesman David Procopio told the Boston Globe “We are continuing to investigate and analyze the problem in conjunction with our local police partners.” “We firmly believe that it is a problem that cannot be solved solely by arrests, although street enforcement is vital. Treatment and public education components are equally essential. Once we are able to gather more information we will release it to the public.”

USA Today reported that the appalling stat was released as at least six states consider “Good Samaritan” laws that would give protection to drug users who bring their overdosing friends to get medical assistance. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. already have such a law on the records to try and stop overdose deaths. The amount of heroin overdose deaths in other states over a related time period weren’t instantly available. State officials have told the Providence Journal that in just a small period of 13 days in the month of January, at least 22 people died from heroin overdoses. And Rhode Island is a much smaller state than Massachusetts.

A lot of the deaths may have been initiated by the existence of fentanyl, a potent painkiller additive that can prove fatal even to experienced heroin users. Assessments of the heroin used by Hoffman when he died in his West Village apartment showed no signs of fentanyl, but much of the drug held by authorities in the Northeast had been cut with the powerful opioid. Richard Holcomb, who is the director of Providence nonprofit that works with addicts, has told the Journal that “the word on the street is that there’s bad heroin out there.” “People believe that they’re shooting heroin but the substance does not look like heroin and they’re shooting it and they’re dying.”

Honestly, at this point heroin has become such a large epidemic across the country that it’s hard for me to think of what there is to do to prevent these fatalities from happening. As drug addicts, a lot of us hear that our friend died of a drug overdose from some strong heroin and say “do you have his dealers number?” Because that must be some good s***! It’s sad but true, this was literally what one of the clients in the detox group me and my coworker do on Thursday mornings said. We are sick with the disease of addiction and our brains don’t work how they should when we are in active addiction. I just hope that somehow, someone or something gets through to the addicts who want to use this heroin before they do and it takes their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


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