Our Opinion: Taking fight to opioid addiction in Massachusetts

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Governor Baker's response to opioid addiction in Massachusetts is an ambitious one appropriate to the nature of the problem. It is an epidemic with tragic consequences.

The governor's $34 million program announced Monday is based on recommendations from his Opioid Working Group. The funding will pay for higher rates of services at recovery houses and for school programs on the dangers of opioids, among other programs. Beyond funding, the Department of Public Health will develop a database of treatment centers and the cumbersome prescription monitoring program will be streamlined to help physicians determine if patients are seeing several doctors to obtain prescription drugs.

Prescription pain-killers are highly addictive and expensive, and can lead to heroin, which is highly addictive but cheap and plentiful. Attorney General Maura Healey, who co-chaired the governor's working group, said Monday that she would strictly enforce the state law requiring insurers to cover behavioral health as they do physical health and make the overdose antidote Narcan more widely available to emergency workers, among other actions. These efforts by the state should benefit the Brien Center, Spectrum Health care's Pittsfield clinic, and other treatment centers addressing opioid addiction around the Berkshires.

Governor Baker said Monday that he didn't plan to run for governor to fight opioid addiction, "but simply put, it was everywhere I went" during his campaign. It is indeed everywhere, including the Berkshires, where it can affect anyone, regardless of race, income group or educational and employment status. It is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives that requires, and it is getting, the state's full attention.

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