Letter: County group takes on opioid issue


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

In his Friday, Feb. 28 op-ed column "Confronting the scourge among us," Clarence Fanto correctly points out that heroin and opioid addiction is an alarming problem in Massachusetts and in Berkshire County. A countywide coalition, the Berkshire Opioid Abuse and Prevention Collaborative (BOAPC), has received a three-year grant from the state Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to address the issue.

So far, a total of more than 250 people have attended one of three regional community forums that were convened to discuss the issues in North Adams, Pittsfield and Great Barrington, and a fourth forum is being planned for Lee on May 16. The collaborative will be embarking on a countywide education campaign to encourage residents to dispose of their unused prescription drugs at our bi-annual Rx Round Ups, or by visiting one of the Berkshire County police departments that have lock boxes for this purpose. Currently those boxes are located in Pittsfield, Williamstown, North Adams, Great Barrington and Sheffield.

Data shows that the vast majority of people who abuse painkillers get them from the home medicine cabinet, or from friends and relatives. By properly disposing of these highly addictive drugs, we can limit access that can fuel addiction.

The next Rx Round Up is scheduled for April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please visit www.dea.gov for a list of disposal sites. BOAPC is currently in the planning phase to determine additional strategies that our community can tackle to address this very real and very harmful scourge. For more information on the collaborative contact the Berkshire Public Health Alliance, contact us at (413) 442-1521 ext. 37 or admin@berkshirepublichealth.org.



The writer is a member of the BOAPC Steering Committee.


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