COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133-1053
Senator Joan B. Lovely
2nd Essex District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 3, 2015
Senator Lovely Appointed to Work on Addiction for Second Consecutive Session
(Boston) – On Thursday Senator Lovely joined her Senate colleagues for a tour and discussion of addiction treatment programming at the Middlesex House of Correction and Jail. Senator Lovely participated in the tour and discussion in her role as a member of the Special Senate Committee on Opioid Addiction Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Options.
“Addiction continues to be a widespread problem impacting all areas of the Commonwealth, so it’s critically important for the committee to make these visits and get a first-hand look at the different ways Massachusetts handles this critical issue,” said Senator Joan Lovely. “I want to thank Senator Flanagan and Senator Keenan for coordinating the site visit and the Middlesex Sheriff’s office for hosting the members of the committee.”
“I want to thank Chairwoman Jennifer Flanagan, the members of the committee and their staffs for meeting with our team to discuss our role in addressing the opioid epidemic ravaging the Commonwealth. There is no greater issue facing us right now,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “At the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (MSO) we work every day to assist the men in our custody overcome their addictions and return to the community healthier and better prepared to reintegrate back into their communities.”
As part of today’s visit, committee members and staff met with MSO addiction treatment and medical staff, toured various areas of the facility and received a briefing from Sheriff Koutoujian on substance abuse and re-entry programming. The Sheriff also discussed the importance of health insurance and access to treatment and counseling services for individuals post-release.
During the first two months of 2015, 45.6 percent of all men receiving a medical intake screening at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office were identified by medical staff as needing detoxification for opioids, or a combination of drugs which included opioids. These numbers are in line with 2014 data, which showed 50 percent of sentenced inmates who went through the MSO’s Accountability Recovery Community (A.R.C.) drug treatment program identified as being addicted to opioids.
“The opioid epidemic affecting our community is prevalent among all populations, and that certainly does not exclude those who are incarcerated,” said Senator Flanagan. “The hope is that as we address opioid addiction everywhere, it will subsequently reflect our judicial system by not only decreasing the number of criminals addicted, but also reduce the number of criminals in general.”
“For the committee to work towards a comprehensive solution, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach,” said Senator Lovely. “That means reviewing how the Commonwealth addresses addiction for the different constituencies affected. This visit begins that process.”
Senate President Stanley Rosenberg appointed Senator Lovely to serve on the special committee on March 2, 2015. Senator Jennifer Flangan will Chair the committee with Senator John Keenan serving as Vice Chair. Senators Gobi, Kennedy, Lesser, Moore, and O’Connor Ives will also serve as members on the committee. In addition to the special committee, Senator Lovely serves as the Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Last session, Senator Lovely was also appointed to serve on a special committee tasked with studying the effectiveness of drug addiction treatment options in the Commonwealth and Section 35 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws, which allows the courts to commit an individual to inpatient substance abuse treatment for a period of up to 90 days. Ultimately, the Legislature appropriated $18 million in the FY15 budget in new spending to help combat substance addiction and to provide substance abuse services to an additional 10,000 individuals in need of treatment. Last year, the Legislature also passed “An Act to Increase Opportunities for Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery,” aimed at removing barriers that stand in the way of effective treatment.