Opiate use destroys individual lives, damages family and friends, and drives much of the property crime and robberies we see in our communities.
The Opioid Epidemic
The Opioid epidemic has its roots in the availability of the highly concentrated prescription painkiller, Oxycontin, made available in the United States in 1996. This pharmaceutical drug has chemical properties similar to heroin, and like heroin, physical dependence can develop quickly.
Opioid users often report the onset of their opioid addiction with Oxycontin use. On the streets, OxyContin sold for $1 per mg. (80 mg. =$80). Over time, as tolerance increased, so did the need for more pills, and crushing/ snorting was often used to enhance the effects. The high cost led many to thievery, and cheaper alternatives such as Vicodin, Percocet and Heroin (snort able and 80 to 90% pure).
Currently there is an opioid epidemic across the country. Young people and those predisposed to addiction are highly susceptible. Many begin experimenting with painkillers between the ages of 17-26 and many will become addicted as a result of legitimate medical use.
Opioid Prevention Inititiatives
Medication Collection Events
A 2005 federal government study revealed that prescription drugs are taken from home more than any other source; only 4% purchased from drug dealers.
The Communities That Care Survey conducted in the Weymouth Public Schools in September, 2009 confirmed those findings – Weymouth youth are accessing prescription drugs from their home medicine cabinets more than any other source.
As part of an effort led by the Weymouth Youth Coalition Substance Abuse Prevention Team and Mayor Sue Kay to stem illicit use of prescription drugs, the town now conducts collection of unwanted medications in conjunction with its spring and fall Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days and the National Drug Take Back Program (Got Drugs?) held in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection.
Collection site - DPW Parking Lot located at 120 Winter Street.
Collection dates are advertised in the Weymouth News, Patriot Ledger, Town of Weymouth Website and fliers are sent home with Weymouth students in grades K – 4.
Residents are instructed by DPW staff to drive in to a garage used to collect the unwanted medications. Pharmacists for count, separate, and log the type and amount of all medications collected.
Police take possession of the collected substances for disposal after the event. The medication collection program is made possible through collaboration with the Department of Public Works, Health Department, Police, and volunteer Pharmacists.
Medication Collection Kiosk
The town collects and safely disposes of unwanted medications from residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Weymouth Police Station. The Medication Collection Kiosk was provided by the Impact Quincy Coalition through a state opiate prevention grant.
Needle (sharps) Collection
The town collects and safely disposes of hypodermic needles from residents Monday through Friday from 9am – 4pm at the DPW. The Hypodermic Needle Collection Kiosk was provided by Manet Community Health Center’s HIV prevention and screening grant. Residents received free sharps containers and needles were disposed of safely without any cost to the town.
The SAPT collaborates with Weymouth Educational Telecommunications Corporation (WETC) on several opiate projects including the documentary “Narcotic Misconceptions” (released in April 2012), public service announcements for medication collection programs and appearances on Mayor Kay’s Monthly Forum. “Narcotic Misconceptions” is linked to the Learn to Cope website and gained national exposure through the “Join Together” e-newsletter sponsored by the Partnership at Drug Free.org
The “Narcotic Misconceptions” DVD has been distributed to over 500 people and has been viewed all over the country and Europe. It is being used in trainings sponsored by neighboring substance abuse prevention coalitions and the Norfolk County District Attorney. “Narcotic Misconceptions” is included in the 9th grade Health Curriculum at Weymouth High School.
SAPT members and partners are often featured on Mayor Kay’s Monthly Forum show on WETC to provide residents with simple strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse and access help for those affected by prescription drug and heroin abuse.
Candlelight vigils are held annually in Weymouth or in a neighboring community to remember family and friends lost to drug overdose and to give hope to families struggling with addiction. Help resources are part of the program.
The Substance Abuse Prevention Team provides educational training to parent groups, the Rotary Club, Schools, South Shore Hospital, students, and first responders on a regular basis. Topics include Current Trends in Substance Use and Overdose Prevention.
The Substance Abuse Prevention Team works with the 11 pharmacies in Weymouth to promote medication collection events and disseminate prevention literature. SAPT members attend the annual Prescription Drug Summit in Florida and work to enroll Weymouth pharmacist in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in an effort to curb “doctor shopping” and “pharmacy hopping.”
The brochure “Protect Your Family and Loved Ones from Prescription Drug Abuse" was mailed to every home in Weymouth in the month of September. 2012. The brochure includes, signs and symptoms of opiate abuse and overdose, ways to dispose of medications, how to obtain narcan, where to get help and promotes the Anonymous Drug Tip Line.
Narcan education and administration
The SAPT has conducted several narcan trainings in Weymouth in conjunction with Learn to Cope, Bay State Community Services and Manet Community Health.
In January 2013, members of the Weymouth Fire Department were trained to administer Narcan as part of the Department of Public Health’s opioid overdose prevention pilot program. Firefighters are now equipped to save lives of overdose victims during emergency response calls. Firefighters rescued 13 Weymouth residents from fatal overdose within the first month of the program.
In August of 2014, the Weymouth Police began carrying Narcan. Training and support was provided by the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office.