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Middlesex DA Marian Ryan Launches 'Mobile Policy Forums' To Combat Opioid Abuse

Sep 28, 2015 03:20AM ● By Bill Gilman

WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan moderated a panel discussion with recovering opioid users at Lowell General Hospital on Thursday, September 17 as part of the Lowell Opioid Task Force’s event, “Crafting a Solution from the Inside: A Public Policy Dialogue Forum.”  The panel consisted of six recovering users, founder and president of Middlesex Recovery Doctor Brian O’Connor, and District Court Drug Court Coordinator Marie Burke, and addressed numerous topics including how the panelists began using opioids and  the steps they took towards recovery. 

This forum marks the launch of District Attorney Ryan’s “Mobile Public Policy Forum,” which features recovering opioid users discussing their personal experiences while offering recommendations to improve access to care and other critical services

 “For too long the opioid crisis has been an analysis of the numbers: number of overdoses, number of deaths, number of arrests,” said District Attorney Marian Ryan. “This event was evidence that the opioid crisis is not about statistics – it is about the lives that drug use impacts. Opioid users, their families, their friends, are all victims of the devastating effects of drug use. The opioid crisis spreads across every socioeconomic class and every level of education. I thank our volunteers who shared their emotional life stories and their struggles to combat this disease. From these very personal stories we can now trace the beginnings of these courageous speakers’ descent into addiction and better understand how they have taken steps towards successful recoveries.” 

Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor added, “I am extremely grateful to District Attorney Ryan for putting together this discussion on the ongoing opioid crisis.  This event was the most informative and substantive conversation on addiction I have participated in for some time.  The candid stories, by members of the panel, should be heard by all members of our community.  They provided a unique first hand story of addiction, recovery and hope.  Everyone needs to hear this." 

Chairman of the Board for the Greater Lowell Health Alliance and VP of External Affairs for Lowell General Hospital Michelle Davis stated, “We are proud to host such an incredible event. It was such a gift to hear the real stories of those who have struggled with opiate addiction and found a path to recovery. The hospital staff in attendance found these stories so powerful and compelling that we are actively working to schedule a similar event to present to our staff and physicians.”

The next “Mobile Public Policy Forum” will take place in October in partnership with the Eastern Middlesex Opioid Task Force and participating partners including Hallmark Health, Lahey Health, and Cambridge Health Alliance. The Task Force’s mission is to bring together leaders from law enforcement, health care providers, and policy makers to propose unique and innovative solutions to the opioid crisis.

“Opioid deaths and overdoses in Middlesex County have skyrocketed in recent years,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Now is the time to admit that our current practices are not working as quickly or as effectively as we need.  To address this rampant problem our office and its community partners are now reexamining conventional approaches to drug addiction in order to address not only the legal ramifications and health risks of opioid use, but also prevention and care. Moving forward we plan to use these inspiring stories to create policy changes in the Commonwealth.”

Middlesex County is the largest county in Massachusetts and one of the largest counties in the country with 54 towns and cities comprising over one quarter of the population of Massachusetts.  The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has offices throughout the county, including in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Lowell, Malden, Marlborough, Newton, Somerville, Waltham and Woburn.


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