“We have to talk about it so everyone knows its OK to talk about,” he said.
Also testifying were Newburyport City Marshal Thomas Howard, Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler and Amesbury police Lt. William Scholtz.
Speakers also agreed that so-called Section 35 commitments — which allow desperate parents to commit their children to jail in hopes they will get help there — are not the answer. Such commitments have spiked over the last year.
No, speakers agreed, what we need is treatment, treatment and more treatment, and the money to pay for it.
Addicts who overdose may be held for detoxification to get opiates out of their systems in the short term. But after that, there are few options for the medium-term, and that’s when many addicts become lost again.
Phil Lahey, a Methuen father of a recovering addict, vividly described the detox system’s shortcomings.
“After the five-day spin, we’re stuck again,” he said.
O’Connor Ives, whose district stretches from Methuen to Newburyport and Salisbury, deserves tremendous credit for convening this forum to call attention to the epidemic of opiate addiction ravaging the Merrimack Valley and to talk about the way forward.
And there will be a way forward, she said. This panel has no intention of producing yet another forgotten legislative study.
“There will be action,” O’Connor Ives promised.
There are many families who pray she is right, and for that, she will deserve our gratitude.