'Beast' of addiction confronted.

AuthorFoskett, Steven H., Jr.

Byline: Steven H. Foskett Jr.

WORCESTER -- Personal stories of the pain and loss that come with knowing someone suffering from drug addiction dominated a listening tour stop of Gov. Charles D. Baker Jr.'s opioid working group Tuesday at Quinsigamond Community College.

Speaker after speaker made their messages clear, saying that opioid addiction doesn't discriminate, and that the only way to combat it is to fund more education, treatment, therapy and residential programs.

"It is a beast, and we need to take it seriously,'' said Benjamin Dio of Worcester. He told the working group he lost his 25-year-old sister-in-law, Paige Lopes, on Feb. 21, after she overdosed on heroin in Onset. She had a young son, he said.

"If you looked at her, she was beautiful,'' Mr. Dio said. "You wouldn't have guessed.''

Mr. Dio said the uphill battle addicts face on their way to recovery is sometimes too steep. He urged the working group to look at making halfway houses more affordable. He said his sister-in-law was paying $500 a month in rent to live there.

"There's not enough treatment,'' Mr. Dio said. "It's already ahead of us.''

The governor assembled the working group as part of a broader effort to reduce opioid deaths in the state. According to the governor's office, in 2013 there were 978 opioid-related deaths in the state.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. told the sizable crowd at the Hebert Auditorium there have been 29 fatal overdoses in Worcester County since January, including three over the weekend. He said his investigators who look into the overdose deaths are starting to see younger and younger victims. He said reducing overdose deaths will require education, open meetings and a focus on prevention.

Judge Carol A. Erskine, first justice of the Worcester County Juvenile Court, reminded the working group that there are still babies being born addicted to opiates. She said her court sees many children from 14 to 16 years old who are using drugs, including opiates. Yet she noted that there are only two detox programs statewide for juveniles. One is in Worcester, and the other is in Brockton, she said.

The judge said more than 3,500 care and protection orders for children were filed across the state last year, including 640 in Worcester County. Many of those could be traced to drug addiction, she said.

"Remember that these are children,'' Judge Erskine said. "You just can't call them collateral damage.''

Sandy Powers told the working...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT